Giggling echoed across the halls of Azur Lane's headquarters. Turning off the classical music from her earphones and taking a pause from cleaning the Chief's unoccupied room, Belfast poked her head out into the hallway. Curiosity soon turned to joy and a cheeky smile formed on her face as she saw the most endearing sight to date. Lady Enterprise walked side-by-side, a genuine smile on her face. To her left, walking in step with her, Hornet giggled as she recalled a tale that occurred between her and one of the newly-arrived Kansen. Not Essex, though.
Belfast ducked back inside, silently closing the door and slipping her headphones back on, before continuing to clean with a genuine smile on her face. It had been a few days of intense therapy between the two girls with the fleet shrink. Sadly for Langley, that had turned out to be her job outside teaching the younger warships how to do their work very well. Belfast chuckled, dusting the desk, then sighed as she saw the bed that had been unoccupied for the better part of these same days of recovery for Enterprise.
... It was time for phase one of the Operation to begin...
Meanwhile, Enterprise and Hornet's familial chatter got the attention of all kansen they passed by, garnering smiles out of most of them as they finally saw the two together. It'd been very long since their last proper, friendly chat. Enterprise even looked like she stifled laughs every time her sister hit a beat of the story that was more hilarious than the other. It was refreshing to everyone around. And for morale.
Turning the corner, the two entered the Chief's office, finding him at his desk, surrounded by Blue Team. He spoke to his fellow Spartans calmly "... Command has finally answered that call for Marine drill sergeants to be delivered to Pearl, so you will be cooperating with them in teaching the Azur Lane's fleet the more advanced tactics and combat acumen we've been taught. Maybe get Infinity to help... Aside from that..." He paused, upon noticing the two women. They saluted, smiles still on their faces. He simply saluted back, waved them forward and continued "You've got your orders. Kelly, do go easy on the destroyers... And watch out for Ark Royal... I don't like the way she acts around them."
Enterprise and Hornet snorted.
Chief nodded, then finished "You're dismissed, Blues... Take care. I'll see you in the mess at 0300 for lunch."
"Sir." They all saluted, before turning to leave. All but Linda wore unmistakable, sly grins on their faces as they marched toward the door. Hornet waved awkwardly to them, eyes locked on Fred. Enty nudged the girl in the elbow, before getting a raised brow from the slightly-blushing carrier. The Chief looked to them, then showed them to take a seat on the couches.
He hummed, arranging a stack of paperwork just as Enty noticed he was on his second large bag of the Death Wish coffee, with a steaming cup sat on a coaster to his right. Then, he turned to them and said "It's good to see you ladies in a good mood after Wednesday's little incident." wearing his poker face. He looked toward the stack of paperwork that was still incomplete to his right, then added "However, don't think that you're out of the woods."
"... Uh..." The two girls paled a bit. Enterprise started "Let me guess... We're actually receiving punishment."
"Yes." John nodded, taking another paper "You're both assigned to base cleanup duty for the next two weeks for starters, meaning you're assisting the Maid Corps... Hope you like maid uniforms..." and he could hear the internal wincing of the two, before he continued "Second, you will be present at every course and after-course Fred is holding for advanced command and combat tactics. I know that groundside combat is completely different from aquatic warfare, but some of the tactics he's going to go through transpose well enough... Third. You will be active at EVERY PT meeting held by Kelly, meaning you will be working alongside the Destroyers, Light Carriers and Light Cruisers... And finally, Hornet, since you started the altercation, you will assist Hood with anything she needs while she and Linda teach sniping skills to our Battlecruisers and Battleships. She is still partially incapacitated, but able to move around in a wheelchair... And once she is physically able, she will also join you in this."
"... Oh." The two had all color drained from their faces.
"We'll be dead in the water by the time we finish all of this... And I still have to help you with paperwork..." Enty murmured, horrified.
"Mhm." John looked past the brim of his cap and Enty could swear she saw a smirk form on his face, "And we still have sparring classes as well. You have a full program, ladies. I'd get to it." and he nodded to them, dismissing them without another word. The two girls swallowed empty, before standing up and walking toward the door. The two sighed, shoulders sagging, before they looked to one-another and chuckled.
(Somewhat) merrily on their way to start their job, the two girls were yet again noticed by the cavalcade of Kansen in the hallway. Laffey, Javelin and Unicorn stopped, with the former giving a small smile at the sight and saying "They're friends again... Good..."
"After last Wednesday, I'm amazed." Jav smiled too "I'd have thought they'd be at even worse odds... I guess the Commander really does know what he's doing."
Unicorn chipped in "The Commander seems kind... We don't see him too often, though..."
"No, no we don't." Jav smirked "Not often enough."
"Mhm." Laffey nodded absentmindedly, "Let's go... Food."
Infinity was herding her 'kids' like they were cats when she noticed the two sisters smiling and laughing. The UNSC Kansen smirked, then murmured "About damn time you two started acting sisterly..." before she turned to her girls and said "Alright, ladies! Guess what! We're all gonna be getting training from BLUE TEAM. So, if you ever wanted to be way more badass you already are... Well..." She smirked, "We gon' get it."
"Hoo'rah!" Cheered the UNSC Frigate gals.
"Oh, fuck yeah!" Canberra raised her fist to the sky, "About damn time we got some good work done here!"
"Canby, calm down..." Sighed Tokyo "I swear, you girls. C'mon, let's grab our PT Gear and haul ass. I'd bet that Fred and the others are about to start up on it." before she grabbed her protesting Australian sister by the forearm and dragged her along. Across from them, a few of the Fletcher Sisterhood destroyers watched the unfolding Sci-Fi Kansenfuckery with muted awe.
Foote hummed, then said "Well... That's interesting. Y'all remember seeing them around?"
"I mean, they're the owners of those massive Riggings floating just above us." C. Ausburne observed "Pretty cool gang, really. Played Volley with them."
"Canby is spooky, though..." Spence whimpered, hiding behind Charlie.
"Oh, she just swears like an actual sailor. Pays that she's Australian." Chuckled Fletcher, "Come, girls. Let's not miss classes."
"Aye aye, big sis!" Chorused the girls.
"And for God's sake, Bache, put on normal clothing."
"No." Bache shot back, grinning.
Fletch sighed dispassionately "Christ, it's like I'm herding cats with you girls..." as they all neatly lined up and marched forward. 20-odd Fletchers out of a hundred-seventy-five. Nobody wanted to know how an entire fleet of them could so easily be fed and cared for, but one would have to remember their wartime service. Swarm tactics are the name of the game...
Trailing back to the Uni-Laffey-Jav trio, Laffey mused "... He's an alien... You saw the briefing too, Javelin... Right?"
"If I recall correctly, yeah." Jav nodded, then she stammered "B-But the Commander looks human! How can he be alien?"
"I just figured..." The girl murmured as they walked on, then she looked to Jav and Unicorn and asked "Wanna check? I have a camera on me..." to which the two Royal Navy girls gasped. Laffey pulled the digital camera out of her hoodie's inner pocket, waving it in front of them and tilting her head. She then said "C'mon... He won't do anything to us if he doesn't see us... I want to see if my theory's right."
Javelin sighed, her friend's desire for knowledge having already transmitted to both her and Unicorn. This was dangerous and stupid. The man had punished Enterprise, Hornet and Lady Hood for disobeying orders, she didn't know what he'd actually put them up to, but she didn't want to find out. Yet, here she was. The two young Royal Navy gals followed their Eagle Union compatriot toward the door to the commander's office.
They peeked up, with Unicorn whining quietly "Laffey. I'm not certain this is such a good idea anymore..."
Laffey didn't answer, narrowing her eyes and looking at the Commander as he... Wrote up paperwork? Nominally normal role, usually assigned to Prince of Wales before the Chief came along. The man that had come to be commander was doing a commander's work. It didn't deter Laffey, though. She sat there, waiting to find an intricate detail to see what the Commander really was.
"I bet he has some hidden power..." Laffey murmured "You girls?"
"Laffey... C'mon..." Jav sighed, then peeked through the window too, "Most I can see him doing right now is writing up the paperwork for the base..." before she looked over to the man's left, to see two empty bags of coffee beans. She raised a brow, then murmured to herself "How much coffee does he drink, though?" and she noticed a still-steaming cup off to his side. She looked to Laffey, then whimpered "Oh, no..." at seeing the girl's face.
Laffey 'grinned' maliciously... Or, well, her face morphed into whatever passes for a grin from the sleepy destroyer. She brought the camera up, zoomed in and shot, wincing as the entire, already-bright room lit up with the flash that she'd forgotten to turn off. Going paler than even her hair and with eyes wide as saucers, the now fully-awake Laffey saw the Commander's head shoot up. He stood up, locked eyes with Laffey, then furrowed his brows. He looked at the pen in his hand, before throwing it.
One broken window and pen in a wall later, Laffey, Jav and Unicorn screamed in surprise. Chief raised a brow, then walked up to the door and propped it open, to see the trio of youngster ships staring with disbelief at the strength with which Chief had managed to throw that damn ballpoint pen. He looked at the wall for a moment, then murmured "Huh. Plaster walls...?" then he turned to the girls and said, "You three are in luck. Only one week on cleanup duty, helping the maids. But thanks for reminding me... I need to set up some sort of List so that you girls know how to behave."
"Oh." He stopped before re-entering, then said "Next time you want to ask me about my service record and my species... You can just enter the office. I said I had an open doors policy, did I not?" And, upon receiving nods from all 3, he nodded back and said "Dismissed," slamming the door shut behind him.
"... Well..." Laffey shrugged, her voice at a higher pitch from the fright. She took a picture of the wall and broken window, then stood up and said "Let's go eat before I do anything else to piss him off..."
"Agreed!" The two British ships yelled in unison, before all three bolted out of the place. Chief had sat himself down back at his desk with a sigh, pulling out another ballpoint pen and wondering how he'd even managed to punch through both at least half an inch of glass and a wall with nothing but a ballpoint pen. He wasn't even throwing that hard. And he wasn't wearing his armor.
Oh, well. One more for the maintenance team...
Meanwhile, Enterprise and Hornet had arrived to where Kelly was;the base's training course. Already, they could make out destroyers and Light Cruisers testing their mobility with the heavy Riggings by running over and under obstacles. Sometimes even through, if Samuel B Roberts's performance was anything to go through. Kelly turned to meet the two new arrivals, then smirked and said "So... Chief give you girls the punishment?"
"Yup..." The two sisters spoke in unison.
"Alright." Kelly nodded, then said "How about you two start with a short run around the base, then you come back here with your rigging, to run the course?" She asked. Rhetorically, of course. They couldn't refuse even if they wanted to, so, with a sigh, the two girls started their lap around the entire Azur Lane base, with Kelly turning back to supervising the Light Ship training.
As they ran, Hornet chuckled and said "So... You and the Commander, sis?"
Enterprise looked to her sis, raising a brow "What?"
"C'mon! The whole war hero shtick with him and you! You're a lot more alike than you'd like to admit." Quipped the blonde as they ran together, "He's easy on the eyes, too!"
Enterprise rolled her eyes, then said "Neither of us has the time for anything of the sorts, Hornet. We're in direct command of the entire coalition, remember? Plus, it's just professional courtesy."
"Oh, c'mon, sis, you seriously can't see it, can you?" Hornet chuckled, only noticing the deadpan stare Enterprise gave her as they ran. The blonde shook her head, then looked straight ahead to run without hitting anything. Enterprise, meanwhile, was deep in thought, running at the same pace as her sister. What had she even meant when she said she and the Chief were...? She turned to the girl, raising a brow at her.
"What do you mean 'a lot alike', Horn-OOF"
And of course, she wasn't paying attention to the road. She'd slammed, front-first, into a pillar that was in the way and fell flat on her ass. Hornet gasped, going to help her sister. The blonde chuckled, lifting Enty up and placing her cap back on her head, before saying "Sis... Even after months of not talking to you, you're as easy to read as an open book." With a dumb, but proud grin on her face.
Back with the Chief, he looked over the paper he had on his desk. He'd started out writing the first rule of what he felt was gonna be an impossibly long list. He looked up as he heard glass crackling under heels and saw Belfast entering, eyes wide. She jerked a thumb back and asked "How in God's name did a pen get embedded in that wall, Chief?" to which the man sighed.
"You have Laffey, Javelin and, surprisingly, Unicorn to thank for that and the broken glass. I overheard their chatter about me being an 'alien' by the door, but shrugged it off... Until a flash from a camera took my attention to them." He explained, leaning on one hand, "The broken glass and the pen in the wall are courtesy of that little event. Perhaps an overreaction from me, yes, but they took photos without my permission."
"... Okay..." Was all Belfast could say. "... You... Do know that is a concrete wall, right, sir?"
Chief blinked. Huh.
"You didn't..." Belfast went by Chief's on look of slight surprise. She hummed, bowed, then said "I'll clean the glass outside your door, sir... Then, I'll find the young ladies and have a chat with them about privacy, even within the office." and exited the place, murmuring about Spartans 'not knowing their own strength'. And she would be right about that. They'd spent so much time in armor that some may have forgotten how strong they are.
Man, that would be hard to explain.
He called out "Belfast." and she poked her head through the broken window. He nodded to her, then said "You mind printing a few copies of this and handing them to the girls?" and extended the first 'rule' to be added to the list... "And remind me to write up a req form for personal tablet computers so I don't have to use the pen and paper analogue. While I'd love to keep sensitive documents out of enemy hands, I'd be glad to have something to help me organize better."
"Yes, sire." Belfast smiled, entering the room again and taking the file. She looked over it, then chuckled and murmured "Oh, this thing will grow..." before turning to the Chief again and adding "May I suggest that you also provide the girls with at least personal communication devices? I believe they're called 'smartphones' nowadays. Way less bulky to carry around versus tablets."
Chief nodded, then dismissed the Maid to her assigned work, before pulling out three req forms.
This was going to be a long command...
IN THE ATTENTION OF ALL ACTIVE KANSEN AND BASE PERSONNEL WITHIN THE JOINT PEARL HARBOR BASE, AZUR LANE PACIFIC COMMAND, HAWAII;
A RULE SET HAS BEEN STARTED BY THE COMMANDER OF THE PEARL HARBOR BASE WITH INTENT TO MAINTAIN OPERATIONAL NORMALCY WITHIN AND OUTSIDE THE BASE. IT WILL BE EXPANDED AS SEEN FIT BY THE COMMANDER AND ACTING STAFF AND IT WILL BE ENFORCED VIA PUNISHMENTS SURMISED IN THE MILITARY CODE OF CONDUCT. PLEASE REFRAIN FROM CREATING ANY MORE SITUATIONS THAT REQUIRE THE EXPANSION OF THIS SET OF RULES
"The List of Things Involving Kansen and Staff That Are No Longer Allowed"
RULE 1. Yes, the officer commanding Azur Lane's centralized efforts in the Pacific is also called the Master Chief. Yes, the Chief comes from an alternate reality and has experience fighting monsters similar to the Sirens. No, you may not film, photograph or otherwise document while he's working on the req forms you put out to see if he does anything 'alien'. Unicorn, Javelin and Laffey can attest to the man's accuracy with a ballpoint pen, as well as his strength.
RULE 1a. Addendum:Belfast did not appreciate having to clean the glass from the hallway just outside the Chief's office.
RULE 1b. "How did that pen embed itself so deep into the fricking wall, Purii~!?"-Head Bulin of the base maintenance crew.
AN:Guess what, boys and girls...
Inspired by those of XCOM and the Kantai Collection variation, "The List is" here. And it's gonna be an expansive running gag for breather chapters...
Don't worry, Ghost and the Eagle will remain a semi-serious fic, but we need sequences of comedy to escape the grim darkness of the not-so-distant future where there's only shipfus fighting aliens.