AN: This story was created after I did some serious pondering back in October about my complete failure to make progress on my last non-drabble fic, Inheritance. Which probably isn't continuing. Sorry, fans of that story. Anyway, I came to the conclusion that it was both too serious and too ambitious, length-wise. What I needed was something shorter and lighter, and that's when the idea for this came to me. I mean, I'd already been injecting plenty of DBZ into Things Not Allowed. Honestly, I'm not sure how well I succeeded on the "less serious part", but hey, it's done and I'm reasonably happy with it.

And if you're wondering why this is only getting published now when it was conceived in October (and isn't that long, as you'll eventually see), well, first I had to scrap an entire 20,000-word rough draft and rewrite it from the ground up, at which point the holidays hit. You know how it is. Regardless, it's here, it's complete, and it's finally getting posted.

Also, this is based heavily on my Things Involving Shipgirls That Are No Longer Allowed drabble fic. Just a heads-up.

Enjoy!

Nagato panted, the action pulling at aching muscles and creaking ribs. Blood dripped down from small wounds on her head and arms, and she resisted the urge to reach up and wipe at the former. Part of that resistance was thanks to the fatigue that pulled at her, threatening to drag her down and not let her up. Overall, Nagato wasn't sure how much longer she could keep fighting, nor how long she could maintain the golden flames of her Super Nagamon form.

On the plus side, though, her opponent didn't look to be in much better condition. The Director's lab coat was askew, the slacks and shirt underneath torn and burned in random spots. Her ponytail had come undone, spilling her crimson locks every which way. And she, too, sported a collection of small wounds, one that Nagato hoped was as extensive as hers and simply covered up by the Director's more extensive clothing.

Their battle had been long and hard, as evidenced of the devastation of the area around them, and it seemed destined to go on for a while longer.

"I'll admit…" the Director panted. "I'm impressed. You've proven immune to all my fast takedowns, and highly resistant to brute force. As such, I'm willing to let you go, alive, if you leave immediately."

"I'm afraid I can't do that," Nagato replied, smiling grimly. "Your war machine threatens the entire world. You threaten the entire world. So, unless you give up, I'm not going anywhere."

This whole fight was a result of recent intel acquired on a project the Director had apparently devoted the majority of her resources to. Further digging had revealed a colossal flying battleship capable of raining shell and missile death to every corner of the world, damn near invincible to what anyone could throw at it thanks to an array of advanced defensive goodies.

Naturally, Yokosuka had marshalled its resources to go smash the thing before it was completed, and alerted San Diego to the problem, though the Americans were a good day behind. They had been met by the expected large Abyssal fleet, and eight specific shipgirls had charged in to complete the mission.

Nagato was one of them, and had made a beeline straight for the Director to tie her up. That delaying action lessened in importance when it became clear that the woman hadn't realized that she had seven other shipgirls in her base, but that just meant the battleship had to keep the ignorance going.

"You know defeating me won't stop my battleship!" the Director shouted in frustration. "Why do you persist, dammit?!"

And there, an opening to land a perfect verbal blow. Not Nagato's specialty, but this opening was big enough a blind monkey could have hit it.

"Because I choose to," she smirked.

The Director blinked stupidly, once, twice. "Did you just… of all things…" Her face twisted from confusion into blinding rage, and she launched herself at Nagato. "DIIIIIIEEEEE!"

Now openly grinning, Nagato jumped back to open up some space, and prepared to weather the new assault. Worth it!

~o~

The drydock where the battleship was being finished in was located a good mile from the command center Nagato and the Director were steadily wrecking. But it was not exempt from combat. Battles raged on its decks and on its bridge as the shipgirls that had slipped the blockade attempted to press forward, and the Abyssals manning the ship attempted to throw them back. Overall, the shipgirls were winning, if only slightly. They hadn't been thrown off the ship yet. They were also losing, as the battleship that was the entire point of the attack was still intact.

Sendai intended to change that.

With the Abyssal defenders mostly occupied with the ongoing combat on the superstructure, the light cruiser had been afforded all the opportunities she could ever want to gain access to the interior. After that, it was merely a matter of sneaking through the back halls and down ladders to find the reactor that powered this whole thing.

Already, she'd gone down one dead end checking to see if it was buried in the main superstructure somewhere, and now she was six decks down, dropping out of another floor hatch.

'Jackpot,' she thought as she took in the glowing, torus-shaped hunk of machinery that dominated the massive compartment. It absolutely dwarfed the usual steam plants she was familiar with. It was also crawling with what seemed to be the Director's standard cannon fodder: six-legged scuttling things with the bullet-shaped bodies and single gun of I-class destroyers, just tougher, faster, with a bigger gun and bladed forearms. Nasty buggers.

They also didn't spot Sendai at first, which gave her time to duck behind an instrument panel, reach into one of the pouches at her waist, and pull out a pair of flashbangs.

'Last ones,' she noted. 'Gotta make 'em count.' Each of the devices was tossed to opposite ends of the reactor compartment for maximum coverage, and the destroyers only had time to glance at the devices before they detonated, delivering enough light and sound to fry optics and burst eardrums.

The destroyers went down, wailing in pain; Sendai, shielded by cover from the light and heavy-duty earplugs from the sound, bounded out from behind the machinery she'd been, and drew her sword. The blade flashed, slicing and stabbing the disabled destroyers, which put up no resistance.

However, there was the other group of destroyers, a group that, despite destroyed eardrums, bounded around the reactor to get around her. Sendai reached into another pouch, and tossed caltrops, tensing her legs to jump. Unfortunately, the screech of another destroyer drew her eye up to one enterprising opponent that had climbed over the reactor to jump down on her. Clever. But not clever enough.

'Gotta time this just right,' Sendai thought as the destroyer descended. Finally, at just the right moment, she jumped up, the destroyer getting caught on her left-behind but still held scarf.

Sendai yanked the destroyer up close, pulling another item out of yet another pouch. This was a block of high explosives, one of several she'd commissioned from known pyromaniac USS Phoenix and brought with her for the mission. Frankly, it was more boom than she needed, but it paid to have extras. Like right now, where she could shove one of the explosives down the destroyer's gullet and then toss it down into the confused, milling crowd.

Boom. Dead. Sendai loved that kind of efficiency.

With the opposition now lying in pieces and/or bleeding puddles around the compartment, the ninja was now free to place the explosives at her leisure, calculated for maximum destruction. It was the work of a few minutes; such placement had figured very heavily in her shinobi training. Giving the explosives on last once-over, she quickly pulled back and behind one of the sturdy hatches leading out, holding the detonator in her hands. As sensitive as the explosives were, it was better to set them off with the detonator rather than rely on impact. Some exceptions aside.

Taking a deep breath, Sendai pressed the button. And then had one moment for a thought of 'Dammit, Phoenix, you overdid it again…' before the stronger-than-expected explosion slammed into the hatch and blew it clear off its hinges, sending both it and Sendai down the hallway.

The reactor going up in a massive burst of star-hot plasma a moment later was just insult to injury. But hey, at least it wouldn't be powering anything anytime soon.

~o~

Inazuma, bleached white by the lightning wreathed around her, floated over the battlefield, her perceptions sped up so that everyone below were as still statues. That was the beauty of her full lightning form: speed. Unmatched speed. Shimakaze had been salty for days when she found out.

Though… not everyone was a statue. Tenryuu and Kiso, or rather their blades, were moving as if through molasses, both blades cleaving through the strange, powerful Abyssal destroyers that the Director seemed to not run out of. Around them were piles of corpses, their handiwork of the last fifteen minutes, and despite a collection of minor wounds, they seemed to be doing fine. Hell, they hadn't even pulled up their eyepatches yet!

Nodding, Inazuma turned back to the fight she was actually part of. Yuudachi and her opponent, a black-clad copy of Hoppo-chan, were moving as if in slow motion. All of them. And despite Yuudachi being wreathed in her black, dog-like battle aura, she was being pushed back. In the short time Inazuma had been watching, Yuudachi had ducked under a straight jab only to eat her opponent's foot to the chin. Inazuma winced; that was the third time that particular counter had worked.

Still, it left her next action very clear. Folding her legs, Inazuma shot forward, slamming her fist into the Hoppo-lookalike's cheek, and then zipped out again. Her opponent had only just started recovering from the blow when Inazuma zipped in again, using the fist that swung her way as a platform to launch a side kick into the Abyssal's face.

And then Yuudachi raked her claws across the Abyssal's gut, sending her careening into the superstructure.

Inazuma came down next to Yuudachi, not letting her guard down. They'd done that four times and Evil!Hoppo was still in full fighting condition. Yuudachi was not. Her breath came in ragged pants, and the arm that wasn't supporting her by way of knee was rubbing her bruised, split chin.

"You holding up, nanodesu?" Inazuma asked.

"I'll manage," the other destroyer muttered. "If I can get through that damn armor of hers, poi."

"I've got an idea for that, nanodesu," the lightning destroyer replied. "Hold her off a little longer for me, please?"

Grinning, Yuudachi hauled herself to her feat as Evil!Hoppo hauled herself out of the wreckage of the superstructure. "No problem, poi!"

As the two clashed again, Inazuma zipped up… and up… and up. It was a simple attack, one she'd conceived of after her introductory physics class. If kinetic energy is the square of velocity times one half the mass… then she wanted as much speed as possible. Finally, ten thousand feet in the air, she turned over, and then sent all of her tremendous speed on a downward vector.

Much like lightning itself, her path branched and forked and then met Evil!Hoppo right as Yuudachi grabbed the Abyssal's fist and used the momentum involved to flip her onto her back.

"Strike!" Inazuma cried out, crossing her arms in front of her and then slamming down onto Evil!Hoppo.

The deck buckled under the impact, metal splintering and wood shattering. But still the Abyssal growled defiance at Inazuma, the installation's arms crossed as well. Still, this was not unexpected, and Inazuma reared back her hand, lightning crackling in the palm.

"Thunderflash!"

At this range, the thunderclap followed the visible light of the lightning bolt almost simultaneously. Wood splinters were set aflame, and the metal decking around the new hole Inazuma was now standing next to was glowing not red, but bright orange.

Panting, Inazuma skipped back to Yuudachi, carefully eyeing the hole.

"Don't think you got her, poi?" the blonde destroyer asked.

"Nope…" Inazuma replied. "Hopefully, I did some damage, nanodesu."

Sure enough, about ten seconds later a hand clad in a scorched and holed mitten clamped onto the crumpled metal, followed shortly by the rest of Evil!Hoppo. There was a smoking crater just below her sternum, but to the dismay of both destroyers that was the extent of the visible damage.

"Okay," Inazuma said, bringing her lightning aura back to life. "I'll be the dis-"

That was as far as she got before Evil!Hoppo appeared in front of her and rammed an uppercut into her stomach. The destroyer hacked up a gobful of blood, her torso folding around her opponent's fist, before Yuudachi swept in and with a whistling roundhouse kick forced the Abyssal to back off.

That left Inazuma to a. Get her breath back and b. Figure out how the hell that'd just happened.

'She must have moved the instant I called up my aura!' she realized, coughing up another glob of blood. 'How the hell did she figure out I'm vulnerable then?!'

And while that knowledge wouldn't do the Abyssal any further good, Inazuma could feel the twinges where she'd been hit whenever she moved or breath, and bloody froth bubbled in her throat every time she breathed. It was manageable, and her damage control fairies were working on getting it under control, but it was time she and Yuudachi ended this fight before they were worn down and defeated.

That idea only gained urgency when Evil!Hoppo batted aside Yuudachi's closing claws and then Sparta-kicked her right in the chest back to Inazuma, where Yuudachi skidded to a halt on the decking.

"Tell me you have a plan, poi…" the destroyer groaned.

Inazuma did, in fact have a plan. Sort of. An idea, at the very least. None of that hedging was actually vocalized, of course.

"Yeah, but you're not going to like it, nanodesu."

"Anything's better than letting that bitch beat me up some more, poi…"

Inazuma began to shuffle nervously. "Yeah, about that, nanodesu…"

The expression that Yuudachi shot her partner's way was about a third betrayal, a third incredulity, and a third pained resignation. "How long, poi?" she groaned as she hauled herself to her feet.

"One minute, nanodesu" Inazuma answered, eyeing Evil!Hoppo as she reran her hasty guesstimates. "Though I don't know why she hasn't attacked us yet…"

[You'd simply deflect me,] Evil!Hoppo stated, the first words she'd said all fight.

Inazuma mulled that over. "That's a good reason, nanodesu," she decided. "Yuudachi, you up for this?"

Grumbling under her breath, Yuudachi rolled her neck, getting a few vertebrae pops. "Yeah. Let's do this, poi."

Crouching down, Yuudachi growled, deep and throaty and accompanied by an intense look of concentration on her face. Her battle aura sprang to life, but where before it was almost an outline, this time it spread across her, obscuring her completely. Soon enough, there was a black dog in place of Yuudachi, a dog that howled and launched off the ground at Evil!Hoppo.

Sighing, the Abyssal lazily shifted to let the beast shoot past her and readied her foot. She was not expecting the dog - no, Yuudachi - to plant a foot and bodyslam the Abyssal, followed promptly by a powerbomb into the decking.

All of this was simply noise to Inazuma. The destroyer had closed her eyes and shut out the outside world, her senses drifting inward. The lightning was always there, just waiting to be pulled. She never ran out of it; she just ran out of some other, more mysterious energy used to buffer it from frying her.

As such, she couldn't just yank what she needed out of that source; it needed to be trickled in, though by now the word "trickle" was a bit inadequate a word.

The point being, power built within her second by second, flowing out into her arms and into cupped hands, but not released yet. It wouldn't do to reveal her plan - such as it was. Could "Build up lots of energy and blast opponent with it" really qualify as a plan?

In any case, about a minute later, Inazuma opened her eyes again, immediately wincing as Evil!Hoppo slammed Yuudachi face-first into the deck, burying her up to her waist and knocking her out of her battle aura.

No matter. Inazuma knew she was faster, even as Evil!Hoppo turned to face her, eyes widening.

[How did you-!] the Abyssal began, and then Inazuma was up in her face, ball of lightning in her hands and pressed to Evil!Hoppo's belly.

"THUNDER FORCE!"

This was no mere lightning bolt. This was a ravening beam of plasma crackling with electrical energy. It engulfed Evil!Hoppo, then disintegrated another chunk of the increasingly abused superstructure, and then extended on to the horizon. All the while, Evil!Hoppo, still engulfed by the beam, screamed in a furious combination of anger and pain.

Of course, she was utterly inaudible over the Thunder Force, and so Inazuma paid it no mind when she cut the power and bent over, panting. After about half a minute, her breath slowed enough that she felt up to staggering over to where Yuudachi was still planted like the world's oddest daikon radish. Grabbing the destroyer's ankles, she gave a hard tug, and Yuudachi popped out, eyes spinning and blood dripping from several fresh head wounds.

"Make the world stop spinning, poi…" she groaned.

"Oh, good, you're alive, nanodesu," Inazuma sighed in relief, before collapsing onto the deck, Yuudachi falling on top of her. "Hey, Yuudachi, get off of me."

"Don' wanna…" the other destroyer groaned. "Make me…"

Inazuma would have loved to, but the fact of the matter was that she was exhausted, and with her adrenaline ebbing her stomach wound was making itself known again. No, her body did not want to move beyond the necessary involuntary stuff.

"I'll wait, nanodesu…"

~o~

Tenryuu grinned as she skewered another Abyssal destroyer under the chin with her sword, using it to batter back several more destroyers before flicking it off. The source of her grin was the lightning beam she could see out the corner of her eye that had to have come from Inazuma. Yes, make your momboat proud!

"Do the dorky momboat thing later!" Kiso snapped, the other light cruiser hacking three destroyers apart in three quick moves. "Fight now!"

"Did I say that out loud?" Tenryuu called over, flushing in embarrassment.

Unfortunately, Tenryuu had picked a bad time to get distracted. Despite the stacks of their brethren littering the deck, the unrelenting tide of modified Abyssal destroyers hadn't, well, relented, and so both light cruisers had been forced to slowly but steadily give ground. They still had plenty of space, of course, but they also had very little margin for error in the short term.

The point being, Tenryuu paid for her lack of attention by a shell that smacked into her left shoulder and spun her out of position. She was promptly dogpiled by several destroyers, Kiso biting back a curse.

One destroyer got skewered very quickly. Another took a 5.5" shell to the face. That still left their bodies pressing down on Tenryuu, and a half-dozen of their fellows snapping their jaws and arm-blades at her. If any of them got the presence of mind to actually fire their guns…

'Got no choice,' Tenryuu decided, wriggling an arm free to pull up her eyepatch. Below it was not an organic eye, or an array of scarring as some speculated, but a strange mechanical eye whose mechanisms were beginning to move. The little central lens focused, and Tenryuu lifted her head up to get a better angle. "Take this!" she shouted. "Final Beaaaaaaam!"

Sure enough, an energy beam leaped out, blowing a neat hole through most of the Abyssals on top of her. It then went on to blow progressively less neat holes in just about every Abyssal behind them.

That left one alive hanging onto her, and it was a simply matter of just punching it square on the schnozz and then stabbing it when it recoiled.

"Black Cross!"

Tenryuu grinned as Kiso unleashed a flurry of slashes that neatly obliterated every Abyssal in the area, her own eyepatch removed to reveal a mostly-normal eye. "Glad you could join the party, Kiso!" she shouted, hacking another Abyssal in two.

"You still lifted it first, so don't get all smug on me!" Kiso shot back. "Let's finish this! Edge End!"

At those words, Kiso held her sword out at her right side and pushed off the deck, speeding forward. As she did so, she brought the sword forward, blade cleaving through a destroyer… and then another… and then another. And so it went until Kiso had cut a swathe through to the end of the destroyer mob, whereupon she made a discovery.

"Hey!" she shouted. "The mob ends!"

"Show-off," Tenryuu muttered. "Go guns?"

"Go guns!"

Bringing up their guns, the two light cruisers unleashed a blistering crossfire. Their fairies would start keeling over from exhaustion in about five minutes, but at this range they couldn't miss, and the hail of shells did an excellent job disrupting the mob.

Unfortunately, said mob collectively decided that the best way out of the crossfire was to attack. And it was the best way out; Tenryuu cut down one before getting swamped, and from the yelps from Kiso's end it was the same situation there, too.

Once again, the destroyers lacked the presence of mind to use their guns, but this time Tenryuu couldn't escape their teeth or bladed arms. Both bit into her, drawing blood in a dozen spots.

And then something crashed down. Tenryuu couldn't see what. Too many Abyssals in the way. But the pressure did subside, and she took the opportunity to shake off and kill the last destroyers.

Once she was out, Tenryuu could see what had bailed them out: namely, Inazuma and Yuudachi tearing the Abyssal destroyers several superfluous new assholes each, which left Tenryuu somewhat conflicted. Proud on the one hand for the bang-up job they were doing, and jealous on the other for kill-stealing. Pride won out, and she also noticed that both destroyers were looking thoroughly battered.

Not that Tenryuu was in great shape either, she was starting to realize now that she had a chance to actually breathe. Her muscles were screaming at her to stop, and blood flowed freely all over her body.

Soon enough, all the Abyssal destroyers were dead, Yuudachi was pulling Kiso out of a pile of her own dead enemies, and Inazuma had collapsed onto her back again. With the destroyer now still, Tenryuu could see the blood that leaked a bit from her mouth with every breath, and the quivering in her limbs that indicated exhaustion.

The latter was a familiar feeling, not least because Tenryuu was feeling it herself. Heaving out a deep breath, the light cruiser sat down on the deck next to Inazuma with less grace than she'd hoped for, sending a wan grin Inazuma's face. "Did you win?"

"Yeah…" Inazuma panted.

"Good girl," Tenryuu said, leaning over to rub Inazuma's head. The destroyer let out an odd little whine, and leaned her head in closer.

She was still doing that when Yuudachi and Kiso limped over, the former looking jealous.

"No fair, poi!" she protested. "I wanna get headpats, too!"

Unfortunately, her body picked that moment to give out, and failed to tell her legs, with the result that as she fell on her face her waist simply bent, leaving her face-first on the ground with her ass in the air. Kiso just collapsed in a heap.

Wordlessly, Tenryuu reached over and began to rub Yuudachi's head, the destroyer also letting out a whine of contentment. The quartet stayed like that for several minutes before a loud roar made itself known. Tenryuu, being half-upright, spotted it first: a massive plume of fire and smoke a few hundred feet forward of their position on the quarterdeck, one that promptly disgorged an absolutely colossal missile clawing for altitude.

It had barely cleared the deck, when, with a flash of light, a brown-and-white blob stuck to its side. And then, seconds later, it vanished, followed shortly by a colossal mushroom-cloud explosion on the horizon.

"Kongo…" Tenryuu breathed. With her hands occupied, her teeth ground together. "You'd better be alive, you crazy woman…"

~o~

The bridge had been another priority for the attacking shipgirls. Just in case Sendai's drive towards the reactor failed, they could at least sufficiently fuck up the bridge and prevent it from leaving if it was operational. Plus, it was supposed to be an easy target.

As it turned out, the ship was not operational, Sendai succeeded in her mission, and the bridge was not an easy target. At all.

'I'll need to have words with Intelligence after this,' Ashigara muttered in her head, resisting the urge to wipe blood from her brow. That was from colliding headfirst with the ship's wheel, and the culprit was the Supply Depot Princess about twenty feet in front of her.

Of course, said Princess wasn't unscathed, either. She was favoring her right side after Ashigara had landed a glancing blow on her side with the spectral wolves she liked to wrap her fists in, and her face was a similar mosaic of bruises and contusions as Ashigara's felt like.

The Supply Depot Princess moved first, rushing forward and swinging one of her massive fists in a head-cracking hook. Ashigara ducked under the swing, called upon her wolves and lashed out with an uppercut of her her own.

When the Abyssal grinned down at her, Ashigara realized she'd made a mistake.

[FUS!]

The heavy cruiser grunted in pain as the powerful shout slammed her into the decking, denting it, and mentally she cursed the sonic technique. She could've finished this fifteen minutes ago without it!

Recriminations could wait, though, as Supply Depot Princess opened her mouth again. Ashigara drove her fist into the metal below her, allowing the recoil force to throw her out of the way of the shout. Spinning, she landed in a three-point stance, right as her opponent showed up her own fist reared back. Ashigara evaded by hastily standing up, and with Supply Depot Princess bent over and wrist-deep in the deck, the cruiser took the opportunity to slam her fists into the Abyssal's back and send her into the decking for a change.

Unfortunately, Ashigara's followup, a wolf-wreathed fist, merely punched a hole in the metal, not the Abyssal, who had rolled out of the way. This was the pattern of the fight: a back and forth slugging match that neither of them could gain a decisive advantage in. And at this point, Ashigara knew she would have to try something risky to gain that decisive advantage.

Problem is, risk was a bit anathema to her these days. Being lovers with a supply officer and thus hearing the logistical side of all sorts of "daring" maneuvers would do that to a girl.

But at this point safe was simply an invitation to die the death of a thousand cuts. She needed to do something to get out of this rut.

Slowly, Ashigara scanned over the bridge, which they'd done a good job wrecking between them. Smashed consoles, crumpled instruments, plenty of holes in the deck below-

Hello. There's an idea. Calling up her wolves again, Ashigara raised her fist, Supply Depot Princess tensing in anticipation - and then she brought it down on the deck, shattering it utterly.

Ashigara, expecting it, was able to land feet-first on the deck below them and avoid any falling debris debris. Supply Depot Princess was not expecting it, and so slammed face-first onto the metal with all the grace of a newborn donkey.

Seizing her chance, Ashigara sprinted forward, her wolves covering both fists. Her Abyssal opponent had just stood when Ashigara swiped the wolf across her chest, shredding the sweater Supply Depot Princess wore and opening bloody rents in her chest. And the heavy cruiser followed that up by slamming her other wolf-covered fist into her opponent's gut, shredding more flesh.

And yet despite the damage, Ashigara's instincts screamed at her, screaming that was proven right when Supply Depot Princess grabbed her by the wrist, jumped up, and slammed down to the deck, Ashigara squashed between the metal decking and the Abyssal's butt.

[FUS!]

Another sonic attack did the job of stunning Ashigara further, and then Supply Depot Princess just laid into her, punch after punch raining down on the heavy cruiser's face. Gritting her teeth, Ashigara positioned her arm to take some of the blows and then snaked her foot up to the Supply Depot Princess' chest. Once in position, her foot lashed out, force and pain from the shoe heel digging into her wounds driving Supply Depot Princess back.

Once again, the two combatants staggered to their feet. Once again, the stalemate remained unbroken, just with more damage piled on top. Supply Depot Princess was bleeding from dozens of small cuts all over her torso, while Ashigara felt like she'd been worked over with a meat tenderizer from the neck up. Worse, her grand risky plan had… not failed, exactly, but it hadn't gotten the results she wanted, that's for damn sure.

Not for the first time, Ashigara cursed her lack of a ranged option other than her guns, which she couldn't risk in this confined space; besides, she had a feeling Supply Depot Princess could dodge them. The heavy cruiser had been working on a ranged version of her wolves, but she'd been stuck for a solid month on figuring out how to project the damn things.

'Well, no time like the present,' she decided as Supply Depot Princess tired of waiting and went on the attack. Cupping her right hand into a claw, she mimicked throwing a softball underhand, and prayed, willed with all her might that it would work.

It did.

It was hard to tell who was more surprised. Certainly not the wolf, which let out a gleeful howl before hitting Supply Depot Princess in the chest and then exploded in a ball of blue flame.

"Huh, wasn't expecting that," Ashigara muttered, eyeing her hands. Looking up, she took in her opponent, who was scorched and dazed. Flexing her fingers, she called up a wolf and then punched in the direction of the Supply Depot Princess.

The wolf leaped off her arm and onto Supply Depot Princess. Just before it exploded, Ashigara caught sight of the Abyssal's "100% done with this shit" expression, and had to fight not to giggle.

Time to finish this. Sprinting forward, Ashigara crouched low to avoid a counterattack. None came; her uppercut was unopposed this time, and the wolf leaped off and grabbed Supply Depot Princess in its jaws with no trouble. It just managed to get back into the bridge before exploding.

Down below, Ashigara had discovered the downside to her new attack: it took lots of energy. The heavy cruiser had slumped to her knees, panting, and she could only hope that last wolf had done it, because she wasn't producing any more.

Eventually, her breathing stabilized, and she could climb back up into the bridge. What should've been a simple pull-up ended up requiring a full half-minute of effort, which only made it even more of a relief that Supply Depot Princess was slumped against what was left of the wheel when Ashigara finally pulled herself up, the Abyssal scorched black and clearly unconscious. A glance around the room confirmed that it was pretty thoroughly wrecked.

"Well, now what?" she wondered aloud.

A colossal noise shook the bridge from the rear, and Ashigara cursed the lack of rear windows. Gritting her teeth, she jumped for the fore windows, broke through, and just caught a glimpse of a massive missile out the corner of her eye before it vanished and was replaced by a massive explosion on the horizon.

"Kongo…" she breathed as she landed.

~o~

Kongo, upon arrival at the Director's big dock, had not chosen a specific target like the rest of the strike team, and had not run into any major enemies. Instead, she'd made her own entry into the ship and just inflicted random havoc while while she explored the bowels of the ship, one ear on her radio in case anyone needed her help. Destroyers swarmed her, but quick teleports, superior physical strength, and judicious use of Type 3 shells meant they just died in droves.

Idly breaking another conduit, Kongo rubbed her chin. Where to go next?

"Eenie meenie miney you," the battleship said, finger landing on a random hatch. She marched up to it, and lashed out with a kick that crumpled the metal and sent it flying in.

Entering, Kongo froze at the sight inside. She'd seen The Hunt for Red October; she knew what a ballistic missile silo complex looked like. Briefly, she wondered what was in the warheads, and quickly decided that that wasn't really important. Letting one of these launch and land would be catastrophic either way.

On the plus side, if they stopped this battleship, none of them would ever fire, so really, the mission hadn't changed.

That thought lasted as long as it took for the familiar roar of rocket engines to fill the compartment. Kongo hastily teleported onto a catwalk above the deck, and good thing, too, because one of the rockets shuddered and began to rise, flames licking at the spot where she'd been two seconds ago.

~o~

"None of this matters!" the Director roared, her fists landing indiscriminately against Nagato's raised arms. "Not you fighting me! Not your pathetic friends smashing up my battleship!" The redheaded woman grinned savagely at the surprised look on Nagato's face. "Oh, yes, thought I'd missed that, huh? Buying time, huh? Well, like I said, it doesn't matter! This ship can rain death and destruction on the entire world right from this dock!"

Suddenly, the assault on her arms ended, and Nagato very gratefully lowered them, seeing the Director jump back and reach for a button. Her instincts screamed, and Nagato heeded them, throwing a quick energy blast towards the Director. Unfortunately, the Director's finger had less space to cross, and by the time the energy ball reached her the button had been pressed.

That the ball was deflected up and away was just salt in the wound.

"Behold!" the Director grandiosely declared as flame rose above the deck of the nearby battleship, followed by a long, oblong object. "This vessel's greatest weapon! A rocket of unprecedented range, that can-"

"It's an ICBM," Nagato interrupted. "Humans have been able to build those for fifty years."

"SHUT UP!" the Director screeched. "The missile's not important! What's in it is! A warhead as powerful as a nuke that spreads a poison a hundred times worse than radiation! Entire swathes of the world will be-!"

Nagato blurred from sight, and with her ranting the Director only noticed when the battleship's fist landed square in her schnozz, effectively shutting her up.

Still, as the battle resumed, Nagato's thoughts were troubled. For all that she had taunted the Director about old tech, it was very effective old tech. And the distant explosion rocking the ship didn't help.

But she couldn't do anything about that. She needed to focus on the opponent in front of her, and bring her down.

~o~

From her new vantage point atop the lip enclosing the missile silo, Kongo watched as the just-launched missile clawed for altitude. Something needed to be done with it; ABM, as unreliable as ever, was hamstrung by reduced funding in this day and age. The Abyssals didn't use ballistic missiles, after all, and there was only so much money and production capacity to go around.

The point being, there was very little chance of whoever had just been targeted bringing it down, even disregarding any countermeasure goodies the Director had packed into it.

All of this and more ran through Kongo's head; quick calculations on relative speeds, and flight profiles, and other things. Gritting her teeth, she folded space as she had long since learned to do, and vanished from the lip of the missile tube.

She reappeared on the body of the missile, and hastily punched two handholds in the rocket, though the wind still threatened to tear her off the missile. And the air was becoming noticeably thinner already.

The missile needed to go down. Now. Kongo shifted the position of her hands, and then pulled. With a shriek, the thin metal of the missile body tore up and down. The fuel tanks, still burning, promptly broke apart from the rest of the missile and went spiralling away; the upper part, containing the warhead and a Kongo still desperately clinging to it, spiralled down and away towards the sea.

Deep inside her, something screamed to Kongo that she did not want to be there when the warhead did collide with the sea, and made a hasty, barely-calculated teleport out. She popped back into existence over a dozen miles away - right as the missile hit the water, exploding gaudily. Kongo, sadly, caught the edge of the blast wave, and was thrown back, somehow landing onto and through the visible deck of the battleship she'd just been on.

It hurt. A lot.

But all the pain in the world couldn't mask the explosion that blossomed out of the aft control station, highlighting a figure in the hole left behind.

Nagato.

Groaning, Kongo hauled herself to her feet, and began to limp towards that position.

And nor was she the only one. Tenryuu, Kiso, Inazuma, and Yuudachi had just been getting to their feet on the quarterdeck when something flew over their head, almost simultaneous with the explosion. Nobody said anything. They just began walking. Ashigara had already been on the way. The explosion simply confirmed her route. And Sendai was roused from the bout of unconsciousness she'd been dealing with deep in the bowels of the ship. That she started walking towards the source had, in her case, more to do with being mildly concussed than anything else.

~o~

And as for the Director, she was actively having to stave down panic. She knew her ship was crippled, her two best subordinates making tracks for underwater panic holes to recover, and that the missile that had been her only shot had exploded over a harmless patch of water. Worse, getting close to Nagato again after sending her flying had proven a grievous mistake; the battleship was not letting her get anywhere near, attacking the Director with a new ferocity and not budging from hand-to-hand range. And the energy blast that had sent Nagato flying in the first place had already been a desperation move.

"Playing for distance, huh?" Nagato shouted as she pressed the attack. "You're getting desperate, Director!"

The Director gritted her teeth as she caught Nagato's straight punch on her increasingly abused forearms, and had to fight to not scream when the blow cracked a bone. A side kick in retaliation was batted down, and she barely caught the same move from Nagato before it slammed into her side.

Worse, Nagato pulled it back and turned it into a straight kick the Director barely caught - the first time. And the second time. And the third. But the fourth went through, hitting her straight on the sternum.

And that was her opportunity. The redhead grabbed Nagato's ankle, and with a roar flipped her onto the deck. She got in one punch, and then Nagato's other foot slammed into her jaw. The two broke off, panting and evaluating.

It was then that someone kicked down the door to the room they'd been fighting in. In trooped seven other shipgirls: Sendai, Kongo, Inazuma, Yuudachi, Tenryuu, Kiso, Ashigara. Bleeding from a multitude of wounds, their legs shaking from exhaustion, their clothes in ruins - and yet, their eyes were hard, their body language screaming "fight!".

And once again, the Director searched her body and found it in little better condition. Not to mention Nagato was still there, and was presumably still able to match her blow for blow.

Oh, wait, Nagato was saying something.

"Give up, Director! You are outnumbered and-"

Suddenly, the Director turned on her heel and sprinted away from the gathered shipgirls, something so unexpected nobody reacted until she'd busted through the window and out of sight. For a long moment, nobody said anything.

"So, did we win, poi?" Yuudachi asked.

"It looks like…" was Nagato's reply.

"Great…"

And with that, everyone except Nagato collapsed to the deck, and the battleship was seriously tempted herself. Still, the adrenaline, the euphoria from both victory and her battle with the Director were the only things keeping her upright. She almost wished the battle hadn't ended...

~o~

"Ahhh!" Nagato gasped as she suddenly sat up in bed. For a few minutes, she sat there, catching her breath, and then heaved out a big one, one hand running through her hair.

"That dream again..." she muttered.

It had been almost a year since that battle in Antarctica. Afterwards, there had been proposals to form the eight of them into a proper unit, but they all had other commitments, and in any case, the war was still so fast-paced and dispersed that they were honestly more effective split up among the ever-changing task forces, most of the time.

And the war was going on. The Director and her lieutenants had escaped, and they were continuing to release mobile Boss-type Abyssals into the Pacific and provide the two Empresses and the Singapore-based Harbor Princess with fresh forces.

Perhaps that was why Nagato periodically flashed back to that brutal battle in her dreams. This wasn't over, and sooner rather than later she'd need to call on the Super Nagamon for direct combat.

And yet, she desperately hoped that that wouldn't be necessary. To have her pure feelings for kawaii used in such a destructive manner - and worse, to enjoy it…

Power. Raw, incredible power washed over Nagato, and what had been probability crystallized into certainty. Soon, she'd need to fight, to call upon the Super Nagamon.

This power… it was the kind that drew others to it. And they could not let someone like the Director have it. And yet… somewhere in her she almost wanted to let the Director have it, if it meant not fighting in Super Nagamon form again.

~o~

And miles up in the stratosphere, at the center of that burst of power, there were seven diamond-shaped objects. Though they could not match that initial burst of energy, they too veritably thrummed with power. They hung in the air for a moment, and then in another, smaller burst of energy they scattered, flying to all corners of the Pacific Ocean.

This event was something that could not be missed. In Yokosuka, San Diego, Bremerton, Oahu, Singapore, Antarctica, Midway, those with power could feel the arrival, and knew what it portended. Even those outside the Pacific could feel it, though they could only make plans to assist their Pacific brethren.

And unnoticed by everyone, a darker, larger object split from the orbs, falling limply down to the ocean. It hit, still unmoving except by the forces of nature, and slowly, steadily sank down to the bottom of the ocean, where it came to a soft rest