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Women of the Waves

Discussion in 'Creative Writing' started by Whitewings, Jul 3, 2019.

  1. Whitewings

    Whitewings Making the rounds.

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    January 1, 1942. Even, or perhaps especially, when the world is engulfed in the fires of the first truly global armed conflict, the simple joys are still important and meaningful. People gathered in Times Square, or attended midnight mass, or did whatever it was they did to celebrate the New Year, if anything. And a few hours later, as the Earth’s surface turned through local solar noon, priests, magicians, medicine people, and other spiritually sensitive people were struck with an inescapable feeling of profound disturbance. To many, it was inexplicable, but to a few who happened to be in the right place, or by perspective wrong, when it happened, it was far too obvious. Armed Forces chaplains or equivalent, nursing sisters, a monk who happened to be looking out on the Mediterranean at just the right moment, and others over the next twenty four hours. Incredible, impossible, yet clearly and inarguably true. God, or the Heavens, or someone or something had just changed the rules.

    Commandant Marquart looked up from the endless forms that came with the running of the Brooklyn Naval Yard. "Yes?" he asked of his secretary.

    "Sir, there's someone here you need to see. It's about the battleship."

    He groaned. Another bean-counter, or worse, a union rep. "Send him in."

    "He's a she, actually. The chaplain sent her,” and the secretary was clearly trying to nerve himself up to add something more.

    "Then send her in!" the commandant snapped, and the secretary hurried out. The senior officer's eyes opened wide as what he could only presume was a performer sashayed into his office, dressed like a pin-up girl. As a military man of long service, he'd seen plenty of pin-ups, and a fair number of actresses and models dressed in pin-up style, mostly at parties and celebrations. But this woman, despite the sway in her hips, was different in some way he couldn't quite define. As he stared, she came to attention, and saluted, crisp and textbook-perfect.

    "BB-61 USS Iowa reporting for duty, sir!" she said, again textbook-perfect, expression as flat and neutral as he could have wanted.

    That was it. Despite the sashay, she didn't move like an entertainer. None of the usual suggestive postures or seductive looks, no breathy or sultry tones. In fact, she had a distinct Brooklyn accent. In terms of behaviour, she could have been any well-drilled member of the Navy. "Explain yourself, sailor!"

    "Sir, yes sir!" she replied instantly. "Permission to speak freely, sir!"

    "Granted."

    "Thank you, sir! Sir, I am the embodied spirit of the battleship BB-61 USS Iowa. With your permission, I can prove my claim. This will require use of the dry dock or, better, Navy Yard Basin."

    He just sat there for several moments. "Did I hear you correctly, sailor? You're the battleship Iowa, still under construction?"

    "Yes sir, I am the battleship Iowa. No, sir, I am not under construction."

    "That's pretty hard to swallow, sailor."

    "Yes, sir, it is, sir." Her posture hadn't changed; she was even still holding the salute.

    He returned the salute, and she went to normal attention. "At ease, sailor," he told her, and she shifted posture. "You say you can prove your claim on the dry dock or the river. Why not here?"

    "Sir, I would break the floor. The dry dock or the river can take the strain the demonstration will place on them, sir."

    He was still suspicious, but this was probably the quickest way to get rid of the crazy girl, so he granted the permission and accompanied her to the edge of Navy Yard Basin, where she ran at the seawall, jumped, and something happened that just was not possible. A pair of what looked like ski boots appeared on her feet, and a, well, backpack was probably the best term. It looked like a section of ship hull and had a smokestack, and huge extensions to either side that look liked like scaled-down portions of battleship. The crazy woman landed on the water, sank about an inch, and just stood there, then starting sliding over the water.

    "Sir, I don't have ammunition yet, so I can't fire my guns, but is this acceptable?"

    "It will do, sailor. Now get yourself back up here."

    Iowa skated over to the ladder, and her... accessories disappeared. She immediately sank, but quickly scaled the ladder and returned to the commandant. "Will you need further demonstrations, sir?"

    "The one will be sufficient for now, sailor. Go report to the Master of the Yard, tell him you need a billet and some normal clothes."

    She saluted again. "Sir, yes, sir!" and after he returned the salute, she went to report as ordered.

    The commandant returned to his office, wondering how he was going to commission a woman. Or enlist a battleship. He was starting to grow a headache.

    He pressed the intercom switch, and told his secretary to get the chaplain in his office along with anyone else who knew anything bout what had happened, and gratifyingly soon, two security men and the chaplain were in his office. They saluted, he returned. His secretary brought in some coffee and the commandant offered seats.

    “So… I’ve met Iowa. Striking woman, isn’t she?” The three men agreed to that. “So, did any of you actually see what happened?”

    “Yes, sir, I did,” said one of the MPs. “I happened to be looking at the Iowa at just the right moment, and… something happened to it, like heat shimmer, and the hull just… shimmered away and the woman shimmered in. She was wearing… well, you’ve seen her outfit. She had on this backpack contraption, and when I challenged her, claimed to be the Iowa. I ordered her to stay put, and when she started heading toward the ladder, I gave her a warning, then shot her. The bullet didn’t even register. There’s no way I missed a slow-moving target at that range, sir, but she didn’t even seem to notice, just sat down against the side, and told me to get my superior. I decided to get the chaplain. After all, this was an obvious act of God, I figured a man of God should handle it.”

    “Very sensible,” the commandant agreed. “Father, what can you tell me?”

    “Well, the young man was understandably a bit… incoherent, and I’d felt something odd only a few minutes before,” the elderly chaplain said in his deep, smooth voice. “Once he managed to explain things clearly enough, I agreed that this needed investigation, and went down to the dry dock. The young woman caused her contraption, she calls it ‘rigging,’ to disappear, and I spoke with her briefly. I’m not sure what she is, but I’m quite sure she’s not a demon. The Church has a list of signs of demonic presence, and there were none present. So I told her to go to you, and tell your secretary that I had sent her. The rest, I gather you already know.”

    “I do. Thank you, Father. You’re dismissed.” After the three had departed, Commandant Marquart spoke to his secretary. He needed to send some messages.

    In the living quarters of the Brooklyn Naval Yard, Iowa looked herself over in a mirror, and liked what she saw: a busty blonde Amazon with legs up to there, curves like a mountain road and a truly magnificent bust. She didn’t admire herself too long before she put her regular outfit back on, then put on the civilian men’s clothes over it. Not entirely respectable, perhaps, but still utterly heart stopping, especially since she was just slightly on the far side of six feet tall. Now it was time for some chow.

    In the canteen, Iowa was systematically working her way through her eighth serving, her table the centre of an entire crowd of sailors, some of them placing bets on whether she’d finish her current plate, others on how many more she could polish off. Iowa herself didn’t mind the attention, and grinned at the more outrageous bets. It felt great to fill her empty fuel tanks, though the incongruence between the feel of food and the feel of ammunition and fuel oil was a bit disconcerting. She hoped she’d get used to that, but for now, she’d been running on pure spiritual power, and that was just not something she could sustain for long. She she glanced up at a swarthy-looking fellow. “Mind getting a gal another serving?” she said with a grin.

    He shook his head. “Lady, I don’t know where you put all that, but if you want more, you got it,” and he went back into the line, returning just in time for her start on the offered plate. She was halfway through when a rating told her to report to the commandant’s office immediately. With a pained whimper, she pushed her tray away, and followed him.

    In the office, she saluted. “Iowa reporting, sir!” she said as she snapped a salute.

    He returned the salute. “We’re heading to Washington.”

    She straightened up a little more. “Yes, sir!” As they strode off, a realization struck her. “Sir, you need to call Admiral Nimitz. In about three hours, USS Saratoga will become the second US shipgirl.”

    Marquart changed direction, heading for his office. “Are you sure?” he demanded.

    “Certain, sir. I can’t see the future, as such, but I know a few things about it.” Once they were in his office, Marquart picked up the phone and dialled the long-distance operator. She listened to the commandant’s side.

    “Yes, operator. I’m Commander Marquart, Brooklyn Navel Yard. I need to speak to Admiral Chester Nimitz, Honolulu.” He provided some additional information, then there was a pause as the call went through. Iowa listened to the Commandant’s side. “Good… morning, sir. It’s about the battleship Iowa, BB-61. She’s finished, and… yes, sir. I know that’s not reason enough to contact you. But it’s how the completion happened, and, well it’s a little hard to credit. I’ll put her on.”

    Iowa took the handset. “This is BB 61, USS Iowa, sir!”

    The voice on the other end was weak and thin, but at least it was clear. “Explain yourself, what do you mean you’re the battleship Iowa?”

    “Sir, I mean exactly that. I am the incarnate spirit of the battleship Iowa, BB 61, United States Navy. I know it’s difficult to credit, but in roughly three hours, you’ll have proof. The aircraft carrier Saratoga will transform just as I have. She’ll become an actual woman, holding her flight deck like a bazooka. Her crew will appear on the nearest shore.”

    “Do you honestly think I’d buy this? Put the commandant back on!” She passed the handset back.

    “No, sir. It’s not a joke. I’ve personally seen this woman call her weapons out of nothing, and skate on the surface of Navy Yard Basin. An MP witnessed the transformation. Yes sir, I know exactly how insane it sounds. Yes, sir. I understand that perfectly, sir. Yes, sir.”

    He passed the handset to Iowa again. “Sir,” she said.

    “Assuming this fantastic story is true, what can you and Saratoga do?”

    “Well, sir, as the embodied spirits of a battleship and an aircraft carrier, we can do pretty much anything we could do as ships, except carry regular people. We have the same range, speed, power, all of that, except that we’re human-sized and pretty much human-like, which makes us basically impossible to target with any weapon that can actually hurt us. Saratoga can fire cartridges that turn into squadrons of toy-sized aircraft that pack the same punch as the full-sized ones. And she know how to summon more ship-spirits.”

    “So, you’re seriously telling me that you’re a battleship in the shape of a woman, with no loss of power or capability. Lady, you belong in the nuthouse.”

    “Sir, I know how unbelievable this is. But you’ll have proof in three hours, when Saratoga changes. And we’re not going to be the only ones.”

    “If this doesn’t pan out, I will make sure that Commandant Marquart is busted down as far as I can bust him, and you land in the booby hatchery where you belong.”

    “Yes, sir,” Iowa answered. “And rightly so, sir. But this will pan out.”

    “For your sake, it had better,” the Admiral growled. “Now put the Commandant back on.”

    She passed the handset again.

    “Yes, sir. I understand, sir. I’ll tell my secretary to expect your call; I’ll be on my way to Washington.” He hung up, then turned to Iowa. “We’ll hear back from him in about four hours. One way or another. Now go get your coat, we need to get to the train station. You do have a coat, don’t you?”

    She nodded. “Yes, sir. I had to borrow some clothes from the yard dogs until the stores open tomorrow.” He just nodded, and after a stop to pack a bag for himself, led her to the train station, where they picked up a few things for Iowa.

    En route, they both passed the time in reading, he a newspaper and she a novel. He glanced at the odd dust jacket illustration about halfway through the trip. “So, what’s it about?”

    Iowa looked over to him. “It’s about an archaeologist who gets thrown back in time and tries to prevent the fall of Rome. It’s pretty interesting; he starts out by convincing a banker to back him in making a wondrous new drink: brandy.”

    That got a chuckle. “Booze: the great uniter.” Then they settled back to reading. Once they arrived in Washington, he led her off the train and toward a nearby park. “I sent telegrams ahead, so they’ll be expecting us. What can you do without that contraption of yours that might convince them you’re not totally crazy? We’ll need something impressive, something you can do in an office.”

    Iowa thought about it. “Without deploying my rigging, I’m a lot stronger than I look. Like ‘carry a spinet’ strong. So maybe… pick up a couch by myself?”

    He considered. “That could work, for a start. Then you could skate around on the reflecting pool in front of the Lincoln monument. But what would you need for a full demonstration?”

    “Somewhere I can fire my guns,” Iowa answered instantly. “Remember, they’re as powerful and loud as regular battleship guns, and we don’t want people to think Washington’s getting shelled. There’s no point trying to keep a lid on me, not when Saratoga’s changed by now and the Japanese fleet will in a couple more hours. By this time tomorrow, shipgirls will be all over the world.”

    Marquand considered for a time. “Let’s go talk to Admiral King.”

    It did indeed take time, and considerable convincing; Iowa’s feats of strength were only enough to put a small dent in the various VIPs’ skepticism. Still, it was enough that they allowed to stay with them for questioning until time came for dinner. Iowa not being considered a suspicious person, just a very strange one, they took a cab to a nearby steakhouse, where the men ordered a steak, a quarter chicken, and a breaded pork chop, presenting their ration cards when asked. Iowa ordered the largest steak on the menu, a rack of ribs, and a half chicken, all with their sides, then the waitress looked extremely uncomfortable. Marquand spoke first. “We’ll cover it,” he said. He looked to the others, “With you approval, sirs? Iowa hasn’t existed long enough to be issued a card.” The others gave him a very dark look, but when Secretary of the Navy Knox nodded, Ingersoll had to go along. Marquand turned to Iowa, his expression even darker than the others. “You’d better be able to eat all that, sailor,” he warned her, his tone promising an entire career’s worth of peeled potatoes.

    Iowa, to her credit, has the sense to look intimidated. “I need a lot of food, sir,” she said, and the conversation turned to various inconsequential matters. In due course, the orders arrived, and Iowa made good her claim, leaving not a crumb or a drop of edible matter on any of the plates, and next to nothing potable in her glass. She’d even cracked the ribs open for their marrow. The sun was well down by dinner’s end, and after watching Iowa at dinner, the Washington men were willing to concede that yes, she was something other than a normal woman. A walk to the reflecting pool later, Iowa removed her shoes and coat, then jumped out over the pool and drove around the surface. Despite the cold, the pool wasn’t frozen, owing to the weather having been too gusty, so she was able to get up to a good speed on the third-mile length of water. She jumped out of the water, dismissed her rigging in midair, and upon landing, inadvertently revealed a limit on her abilities: her borrowed shirt was irreparably damaged and the shipgirl very glad of her choice to wear her normal outfit under the borrowed civilian clothes.

    By the demonstration’s end, Knox and Ingersoll had managed to accept what they were seeing. “So, those guns of yours, they’re just as powerful as the real thing?” asked Knox.

    “Just as, Mr. Secretary,” Iowa confirmed.

    Knox nodded slowly. “I’ll need to contact Roosevelt, and King. He’s up in Rhode Island right now.” That was no sort of secret, not when his headquarters was the USS Augusta. “We’ll hold the demonstration on Saturday, and make it a public event; you can use tomorrow to buy some proper clothes. I’m sure my wife will me willing to help there. Commandant, you can get back to your yard, we’ll take over from here.”

    Marquart saluted. “Yes, sir.”
     
    Last edited: Jul 4, 2019
  2. Whitewings

    Whitewings Making the rounds.

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    It was around three in the afternoon that a bored sentry straightened up as something approached the shore from an unexpected direction. There weren’t any ships due in this afternoon from Vancouver, and that wasn’t a profile he recognized. He put his binoculars to his eyes, and nearly dropped them again. It wasn’t possible. He couldn’t have seen it properly. He looked again, and kept looking. The… whatever she was looked like a blonde Princess Elizabeth, gliding across the waves on what looked like a cross between a throne and a battleship. She wore what looked like a miniature of St. Edward’s Crown, held what looked like the Orb of the Sovereign, and carried as a sceptre what looked like a radio mast. He kept watching as she slowed, stood, then started climbing up the breakwater. By the time she was onto the path, he had his bearings enough to have his rifle aimed at her. “Halt and identify yourself,” he ordered.

    The woman sat back down, and said in a fine, cultured mezzo-soprano, “I am HMS Warspite, and wish to speak with Commander Soulsby.”

    The seaman’s expression was eloquent. “I don’t know who you are, lady, but a fancy contraption and some props aren’t enough to back up a claim like that. So either get off this base or I shoot.”

    “I’m not leaving until I speak to the commander,” she said firmly.

    She even sounded like the princess! Whoever she was, she was very dedicated to her craziness. “Then I’ll give you one warning. Leave. Now. I won’t miss at this range.”

    Her stern expression hardened further. “I will not leave.” A crack and a puff of smoke, and she looked down at her corset. “Good. I needn’t readjust my bow. Now, seaman, as you have no ability to stop me, I would like you to escort me to Commander Soulsby.”

    He slung his rifle and without taking his eyes from her, fumbled for the handset in her guard shack. “This is Seaman Hanks, I have a situation here. CPO Rackins, can you get down here?”

    The CPO arrived not too long after. After an explanation from the seaman, he looked over the strange woman. “You know how crazy you sound, right?”

    She nodded. “I understand exactly how mad this sounds, yet it is true, Chief.”

    “Well, that crazy throne thing of yours won’t fit through any doors, so you’ll have to leave it behind.” That oughta get rid of this nut, he thought. The the throne went away. And the crown, orb and sceptre.

    “Shall we proceed, chief?” she asked.

    Rackins gaped, and as the seaman had done, decided to pass the buck upstairs. So he led her to Commander Soulsby.

    As he often did in his spare moments, the Commander was sketching, but set his pencil down at his secretary’s announcing of a visitor. The young woman came to proper attention, and saluted. “HMS Warspite reporting for duty, sir.”

    He returned the salute, then turned to the chief and seaman, who told their stories. Clearly something remarkable was happening, but the idea that this woman actually was a battleship was still a bit out there. “If you’re a battleship, then where is your crew?”

    She kept her expression serious. “My human crew, last I saw, was on the beach at English Bay. They were in no danger, and I needed to report to you.” Then she smiled. “My new crew is right here. Meet my chief,” she said as she reached into a small pocket in her half-skirt, and drew out a tiny… girl? It somehow seemed female, with a hugely oversized head, a bit like Betty Boop actually, in a CPO’s uniform. She snapped a salute and squeaked “Hey!” “Chief Petty Officer Bell, this is Commander Soulsby.”

    The Commander returned the salute without too much hesitation, and Warspite returned the chief to her pocket. “I… see. Well, I have to say, your claim is more credible. So, granting its truth, why are you as you are, and what can you do?” After listening to her explanation and asking a few questions, he decided that this would require the First Lord and Prime Minister’s attention.
     
  3. Whitewings

    Whitewings Making the rounds.

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    While Iowa and Commandant Marquart were en route to Washington, a familiar face stepped into Admiral Nimitz’ office, followed by his secretary. “Admiral, you aren’t going to believe this, it’s about the Saratago… she’s… she’s a she!”

    “I’m sorry, sir,” the secretary managed to stammer out. “I didn’t get the chance to announce him.”

    The admiral stared at the man, then spoke firmly, bust softly. “Slow down, Herb. Breath. Then tell me what happened.” A deep fear was starting to grow in his gut.

    Rear Admiral Fletcher did as instructed, and by the time his breath was back, had managed to somewhat compose himself. “I was on the Saratoga’s deck, then suddenly the whole ship… it kind of… it was like seeing something appear out of heat shimmer, but backward. The hull just… shimmered out. And suddenly I was on the beach with the rest of the crew, and this woman shimmered in, carrying this… I don’t know, it looked like a tiny flight deck. She said she needed to talk to you, then just… took off across the water, she wasn’t even moving her legs. I took our fastest ship to get here before her.”

    “Go get the chaplain,” the admiral told his secretary. Once the workman was on his way, Admiral Nimitz headed off for the beach. A fairly short walk later, he saw a crowd of sailors and workmen starting at a toweringly tall strawberry blonde in a sleeveless blue dress, red stockings, and carrying what looked like an unholy fusion of an SMG and a carrier’s flight deck. The moment she saw him, she came to attention and snapped a salute, somehow standing on the ocean’s surface. Admiral Nimitz could still see the wake she’d left. “Sir! CV-3 USS Saratoga reporting in, sir!”

    He returned the salute. “At ease, sailor.” The woman shifted posture to a fairly relaxed stance, not exactly a conventional “at ease,” but a fair approximation given her… weapon. “Explain yourself. What do you mean, you’re the Saratoga?” He didn’t doubt Herb’s honesty, but this was too far outside anyone’s experience to grasp quickly or easily.

    Saratoga didn’t directly answer. “Sir, request permission to come ashore.” The admiral granted permission, and Saratoga somehow jumped two yards high and four yards along, her weapon disappearing as she did, and landed lightly on the sand. “Sir, I am the embodied spirit of the aircraft carrier Saratoga. I can deploy or dismiss my rigging as required, as you’ve just seem. Despite my appearance, with my rigging deployed, I have all the speed, durability and firepower of the warship I was, except that I no longer carry a crew.”

    Nimitz frowned; even if true, this just stuck in his craw. “So… can you change back? Women don’t have a place in a Navy, never mind as the Navy.”

    Saratoga lowered her head. “I know your feelings on the subject, sir. But circumstances don’t leave much option, sir; the Japanese fleet has been, or soon will be, transformed almost entirely into beings like myself. How well do you imagine a conventional warship will fare against an equivalent ship reduced to my size but with the full power of my previous incarnation?”

    Admiral Nimitz fell silent, considering the question. Saratoga was right, a conventional warship just couldn’t hit a human-sized target accurately. “So, assuming you really are a warship somehow turned into a woman, how do we repair you? With a repair slip or a hospital bed?”

    “Neither, sir,” Saratoga replied promptly. “With your permission, the yard workers can prepare a basic repair dock for those like me in an hour or two, maybe less. Beings like myself need only two things to repair ourselves in a timely manner: a great deal of food, and a suitably blessed pool of warm mineral water. Not exactly hard to find here in Hawaii,” she said with a smile. “All the crew needs to do is build, basically, an artificial tide pool. Two or three yards out from the shore and fifteen or twenty yards across will be enough, if the chaplain is willing to perform the blessing.”

    Admiral Nimitz frowned in thought. “So you repair yourself by having a feast and taking a bath in the sea?”

    “More or less, sir. The pool needs to be properly consecrated, the bath is measured in hours or days, and the feast needs to be huge, enough to feed ten or fifteen men. But yes, that’s fairly accurate.”

    “I’ll have to think about this,” he said. This was insane, totally insane. He believed in God and in miracles, but miracles were subtle things these days. But the carrier was gone and the woman was present, and what else could do that but an act of God? Better wait for the chaplain to arrive.

    It wasn’t long before Father McGuire arrived. He’d broken out the full regalia for this, including his Bible and something that looked like a very small mace with holes in it; the workers made way for him. He nodded to the admiral. “Good afternoon,” he said, then nodded to the woman. “Good afternoon. One of the yard workers came to me with a rather fantastic story. You don’t mind if I ask you a few questions, do you?”

    “Of course not, Father,” she answered with a smile.

    “Well, first, I’d like to start with the simplest test, one anyone can understand. I have a quantity of holy water in this sprinkler.”

    “And you want to sprinkle me with it. Go ahead, Father. My clothing can handle a bit of salt water, and so can I.” He did, and she showed no slightest discomfort. The priest returned the sprinkler to his sash, and turned to the admiral.

    Nimitz relaxed at the lack of reaction, releasing a bit of tension he hadn’t realized he’d been under. “With your permission, I’d like to question her further.” The Admiral gave the permission, and the Father turned back to Saratoga. “First, who and what are you?”

    “Well, I’m Saratoga. CV-3 USS Saratoga to use my full name, and I’m the incarnate spirit of that vessel, with all the capabilities of that vessel despite my transmigration.”

    He frowned in concern. “That’s quite a claim. Do you have proof?”

    She smiled. “I certainly do.” She walked out into the ocean, her bizarre weapon appeared along with a sort of “bustle” carrying guns, then she raised her flight deck, and fired along the length of the beach. From the barrel there came a puff of smoke, then a flash of light turned into a half dozen tiny Avengers, which circled around and flew up and down the length of the slip. The oddly proportioned pilots even waved to the onlookers before the squadron converged and in a flash of light merged into a cartridge which Saratoga tucked into a pocket in her skirt.

    “Would you be willing to say a paternoster with me?” the Father asked.

    Saratoga hesitated. “Um… I only know it in English. Will that do?”

    He nodded, and they spoke the prayer in their separate languages, then the priest said to the Admiral, “Whatever she is, she’s absolutely not one of Satan’s minions. I’d call this a probable miracle, though of course a proper investigation will be needed. In the meantime, miss Saratoga, is there anything you need that I can help with?”

    Her face lit up in delight. “There certainly is!” and she told him with she’d told Admiral Nimitz about her requirements for healing. He agreed to give the pool its needed blessing, and asked them to let him know when it was ready. He had a new sermon to write for Sunday.
     
    Pastel_Comma and preier like this.
  4. Whitewings

    Whitewings Making the rounds.

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    In Yokohama, Admiral Yamamoto was taking lunch in the officer’s mess when a seaman third class, looking very much as if he’d rather be anywhere else, entered, flanked and followed by a pair of teenage girls. Young teenage girls in school uniforms, though with ridiculously short skirts. And the one to the left had white hair. All three saluted properly, and waited. After a decent interval, the admiral rose and returned the salute, then bowed to the correct degree; the three returned the bow, the two girls less deeply that the seaman, who remained bowed. “Sir, request permission to speak with you in private, on a most remarkable matter concerning the women with me,” he said, tone painfully correct and neutral.

    The admiral considered briefly. “Go to the nearest debriefing room and await my arrival.” The three departed with gratifying speed. That seaman clearly needed instruction in proper protocol and security practices.

    Once he was finished with his lunch, Admiral Yamamoto proceeded to the conference room, allowing his irritation to show on his face. “Explain yourself immediately, seaman. Who are these children and why are they on this base at all, and most importantly, why did you feel it necessary to interrupt my lunch to introduce them?”

    The seaman had bowed, and showed no sign of straightening up. The two girls had also bowed, but straightened up. “Permission to speak, Admiral”? asked the one with the white hair.

    He let her sweat for a few moments. “Permission granted.”

    “Thank you, sir. I am Imperial Japanese Naval Destroyer Yamagumo,” said the one with white hair. “My companion is Imperial Japanese Naval Destroyer Mutsuki. We are prepared to prove this remarkable statement. First, though, the seaman’s testimony might be desirable.”

    The admiral nodded. “Explain yourself, seaman.”

    The poor fellow finally managed to straighten up. “Sir, the destroyer Yamagumo was sitting off-shore, and I and a few others were looking in the right direction to see the hull start to… to ripple, like seeing something through the ripples over a hot road. It… it just… went away. And this girl appeared, standing on the ocean. And this other girl burst from the sea and they… skated across the sea, and said they needed to see you. I was told to escort them to you, sir.” He had not looked up at the admiral the entire time, he trembled in every limb, and of the many levels of politeness Japanese allowed, his level was positively obsequious.

    “Truly,” the admiral answered; his tone could could have dried the Inland Sea. The seaman just stayed as still as he could.

    “We can prove our claim, Sir,” said the girl who claimed to be Mutsuki. “Fortunately, this floor is concrete over bedrock.” Neither instantly nor gradually, a bizarre contraption simply appeared on her back. And the floor dented slightly.

    He frowned at the dent. “Do not do that again. But it is sufficient proof that you are at least something remarkable. For now, I will give orders you are to be treated as… naval cadets.”

    Mutsuki had the grace to look shamefaced. “Yes, sir. Thank you sir.” The admiral dismissed them, and the seaman left as quickly as he could manage without entirely losing what little dignity he still retained. Mutsuki dismissed her rigging, and the two girls headed for the one place every shipgirl loved best: the mess hall.

    Admiral Yamato returned to his office, wondering how he was going to write this up, and to whom he would submit the report. Tojo would never believe it; that man thought an order from an officer would make a hen lay an egg. And he hated the Navy. No, he’d need to go straight to the top: Hirohito. Besides, this was a bluntly supernatural event, and the Emperor was the highest religious figure in the country, on par with the Dalai Lama or the gaijin Pope. As he was mentally composing the report, a knock came at his door. He gave permission to enter, and in came several extremely tall women, wearing between them about enough clothing to make one conventional women’s suit, and behind them several more young teens.

    He sighed heavily. “Name yourselves.” The least dressed of the towering women claimed to be the Yamato, and somehow he was not particularly surprised. “Has our entire fleet become women?” he asked rhetorically.

    “Only much of it, sir,” the battleship-woman Nagato told him.

    He sighed. “I must speak with the Emperor on this matter, and it would be well to have at least some of you come along. But your attire is… unsuited to the Imperial Palace. Why do you wear so little, and can you wear more normal clothing?”

    “Our outfits, sir, are symbolic representations of our armour layouts as ships, and we will wear nothing else into combat, simply because wearing normal clothes atop them would be a waste of cloth. But we can and will wear other clothing for appropriate circumstances, sir.”

    “Very well,” he said with understandable reluctance. “I will order that the once-ships be treated as naval cadets, until such time as I decide how best to integrate you into existing command structures. For now, I need some information: what do you eat, do you eat, what else do you need?” And they told him. “I will see that these matters are attended to. In the meantime, you are dismissed. Pass my orders to the other transformed vessels.”

    The former vessels saluted, and Nagato confirmed that they would do so. As they filed out of the office, it was impossible for the admiral not to watch the battleships’ sterns a bit. That could become a problem; he just hoped it wouldn’t be too bad of a problem.

    Earlier that day
    On the beach at Mata Island, a furious commander glared at the little girl standing where his destroyer had been. “You! Child!” he bellowed. “Come here now!”

    The short-skirted schoolgirl slid across the water to the very edge of the rocky beach, then gave a half-hearted salute. “My name, sir, is Akebono,” she didn’t quite sneer. “Akebono, 18th ship of the Imperial Japanese Navy's Fubuki-class destroyers, if you want the full form.”

    His face darkened in fury. “Come here, Akebono!” He would not acknowledge the ridiculous claim that she was his destroyer; it was self-evidently preposterous. The girl, with her ridiculous-looking backpack and accessories, did as told. The stones under her feet cracking down to gravel didn’t even register. “What have you done with my vessel, child?”

    Akebono frowned, eyes narrowed. “Nothing, Commander. I am your vessel. However little you want it to be true, I am Fubuki-class destroyer Akebono.”

    “Nonsense! You are a foolish schoolgirl, not a vessel of war. Now tell me the truth: Where is Akebono?”

    “Right in front of you, sir!” she insisted. Insisted, but did not plead.

    He tapped his swagger stick meaningfully across his palm. “You will tell me the truth immediately.”

    “I have, and I will. That you cannot accept the truth, do not blame me.”

    And he swung his stick hard across the disrespectful, stubborn, foolish, unendurable girl’s face. She didn’t even flinch. There was no welt. “So,” he said. “You have some small measure of courage. It will not be enough, I will have the truth!” And he slapped her across the jaw, then howled in pain.

    Akebono sighed. “Sir, I told you the truth,” she said softly. Then she bellowed for a medic before returning to the sea, staying about a metre from the tide line. The commander’s subordinate, along with the medic, came as quickly as they could across the rocky, pebbled beach. While the medic occupied himself with the commander’s multiply factored hand, the XO turned to Akebono.

    “Young woman, who and what are you?” he asking, tone demanding and harsh.

    She saluted, properly this time. “I am destroyer Akebono. Or, rather, the manifested kami of destroyer Akebono, with all the capability of that vessel. So when the skipper slapped me, well. I’m sorry for his suffering, sir.”

    “I… see,” the XO said slowly. “And how has this come to pass?” His tone now was less harsh, though no less demanding.

    “Sir, I do not know. I do know that we, meaning myself and other components of the fleet, have become as we are for two reasons: to bring this war to a swift conclusion, and more importantly, to prepare for a much greater war to come, a war not for pride or wealth, but for the survival of the human race against youma called Abyssals. They are like us, in that they have the forms of young women and the power of warships, and unlike us in that they seek to drive mankind from the waters, the skies, and ultimately the land.” She moved one hand to indicate she needed to pay attention to something other than him, and a few moments later returned her attention to the XO. “Yamato, Nagato and several other lighter craft are heading to Yokohama to confer with Admiral Yamamoto. Perhaps we should confer again when I receive news from them?”

    The XO considered for several moments. “That will do. Can you come ashore, Akebono?”

    She nodded sharply. “I can, sir,” and slid several metres out to sea, then slid back in, leapt twice her height up and even further along, landing on the rocky strand with rigging dismissed.
     
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  5. Major Major

    Major Major Getting out there.

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    Oh blimey..... London's going to blow a gasket if/when the Hood comes back, along with the Prince of Wales and the Repulse. I hope that doesn't take too long.
     
  6. Whitewings

    Whitewings Making the rounds.

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    In a repair slip in Leningrad, the battleship Gangut had been undergoing repairs, and providing limited gun support despite her lack of mobility. The yard workers, though, had found it desirable to withdraw indoors, and so only two men were on hand to see the change occur. “Vlad?”

    “Yes?” asked Ilya.

    “Did you just see that?”

    “No. And neither did you. We weren’t here when it happened, we were delayed in our patrol.”

    “Da,” Vlad agreed. Both quietly ignored the white haired young woman walking down to the frozen river and the prominent lack of battleship in the repair slip. The event had been clearly supernatural, belief in the supernatural was counterrevolutionary, therefore, there had been no event. They reported nothing to their superiors even as the transformed battleship shattered the ice of the Neva as she slid along the river, leaving a narrow trail. The NKVD would hear of this in time, but not through them.

    Gangut did not how know she had come to be as she was, yet she remembered what she had been, and the current situation, though she knew not how she knew, and so had chosen to initiate the most important phase of any military operation: Gathering intelligence. Her white hair and white coat made her hard to see against the river's snowy surface, especially when she dismissed her rigging. The cold instantly bit, and she shivered in her light attire, but she could endure. For the people of Leningrad (which she still thought of as St. Petersburg) and all the Russias, she would bend her might to the destruction of the Nazis and their troops. For their sake, she would endure what no other could. And so she began her careful circuit, keeping low, using all the cover she could find as she scouted along the siege line. The bombardment was not as a film would show it, endless, but intermittent, here a dozen shells, there a quarter of that number, no rhyme or reason, all to keep the defenders off balance. Twice she had to deploy her rigging as her limbs became numb from cold, and twice only battleship armour kept her alive long enough to dismiss her rigging and scurry away, further along her circuit. Mighty as she was, she was still only a single combatant, so where could she best apply her power? It needed to be something essential, something only she alone could do, or the NKVD would try to "suppress" her. She considered, and decided she had no choice. She made for the Road of Life, the only source for food, ammunition, medical supplies, and evacuation. If she could knock out even some of the batteries that threatened that road, the city just might have a fighting chance. Memories of the yet to be surfaced, horrid recollections of people dead in the streets of hunger, of children singing morbid rhymes. As she approached the Road, she deployed her rigging, and sent on the Russian frequencies what she hoped was a secure message to the supply train's commander. "Bread-bringers, you are now under the protection of battleship Gangut! I will kill the men who break the Road of Life, and the city shall live!" She shut down her transmitter, and did not risk a second message. She would speak with her guns, in a mighty voice that all would understand.

    The instant she ended her message, Gangut slid along the Neva quick as she could. There would be no subtlety, no glory, only courage, duty and death. She depended on speed and small size to avoid German artillery, firing as she passed then. She hadn’t been designed for direct fire; it was an odd experience, targeting things she could actually see. The Germans, she soon decided, were either very brave or very stupid, surprisingly few fleeing their posts. Or perhaps they just didn’t understand what they faced. Yes, that seemed most likely. As she approached the lake, she found herself slowing down. What was wrong? Why did the ice not shatter under her great weight? Oh no… the ice. Why had she not realized it before? Over a metre of clear lake ice was enough to support even her! She started to run, her shoes leaving behind her prints of ice, snow pressed hard. Battleships did not tire, they only ran out of fuel. She had relatively little fuel, her tanks barely a quarter full, but it would be enough. It had to be enough. The road had to be protected! Yet a fifty kilometre long ice road was a long stretch to protect for just one person, however mighty. Then inspiration struck. She didn’t need to protect the road! The German artillery was on the shore, not the ice, and if she took out the artillery, it would be days or weeks to replace them! Gangut started walking along the ice near the shore, too close for the Germans to depress. This was going to be a slaughter.
     
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  7. Whitewings

    Whitewings Making the rounds.

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    In the Wadden Sea, just near Hamburg, there lies the tidal island of Neuwerk. Normally home to a population of thirty to thirty-five, its current population was now more than double that, with the new residents extremely confused as they watched a pretty young girl sailing off to the north, singing an old German chanty. Every officer and enlisted man knew the Gestapo was going to kill them. Perhaps literally.

    U511 had no idea how she had come to be as she was: one moment nothing, the next moment she was sliding across the sea. She had feet, and legs, and arms, instead of a sleek hull, and the weirdest part was how weird it didn’t feel. It was perfectly normal and natural, just as natural as receiving a radio signal from… Bismarck!? But she’d been sunk, hadn’t she? The transmission was brief, very brief, just an announcement of name and instruction to change to a different frequency.

    “All Schiffsmädchen, report! Over!” came the voice she somehow knew was Bismarck.

    “U511, reporting in, over!” she answered. Then more, mostly vessels she somehow knew had been sunk: the destroyers Leberecht Maass and Max Schultz, the cruiser Prinz Eugen, and the aircraft carrier Graf Zeppelin, still under construction last anyone had heard.

    “Graf Zeppelin,” she heard Bismark command, “you will proceed to forty nautical miles due north of Bülker Leuchtturm. We will rendezvous with you there. All vessels are to defend themselves as needed, but do not initiate hostilities. Maintain radio silence until rendezvous. Acknowledge, over.” The acknowledgements, including her own, came in very quickly. U511 kept heading north, and crouched low, steering a bit further out to sea. A long, tense, yet boring voyage later, she arrived at the approximate location of the rendezvous, and after some searching finally found the others. A human was a very small thing to find in an ocean, even with patrol aircraft to help and guide. She saluted Graf Zeppelin and Bismarck, and they returned the salute.

    “Now that we can speak normally, we have a mission. We are going to proceed to the Bay of Danzig. We will go up the River Vistula, then the River Bug, and we will destroy Sobibor and Treblinka. Graf Zeppelin and U511 will provide primary anti-air. If spotted by hostile forces, all surface vessels will dismiss rigging and submerge. We will hold hands, and U511 will submerge and tow us. Prinz Eugen and I will take her port side, the rest her starboard, to keep the load reasonably balanced. Any questions?” There were not, and the German girlfleet sped off to prevent an atrocity.
     
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  8. Whitewings

    Whitewings Making the rounds.

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    Able Seaman Jacob Hand, standing watch at Gibraltar, saw a speck of white apparently near the horizon, and disregarded it. It wasn’t anything worth regarding, just an albatross or similar. He kept up his watch, and noticed the speck getting closer, but still paid it no mind, not until the speck turned into a line. Odd. He raised his field glasses, and saw something that just didn’t make sense. He looked again, and again, and finally started to get what he was seeing. It wasn’t possible, but he was seeing it anyway. He called to the nearest other seaman to fetch Admiral Somerville immediately, and went back to watching the impossible sight.

    HMS Ark Royal didn’t know how she’d come back, but she knew where to go and where she was, so she slid across the ocean at a steady 15 knots, watching and listening for enemy activity. The Krauts had a lot of U-boats in the area, and she didn’t want tangle with them. Oh, they’d only hit her by dumb luck, their torpedoes were good but not that good, but there was always that chance. Less than ten kilometres from Gibraltar, it happened: a Kraut commander with the mental strength to accept the evidence of his own senses. She heard the thrum of the boat’s engines turning to face her, and boosted to full speed ahead even as the Kraut launched a torpedo spread at her, her fairies scrambling to get her up as quickly as possible. While she did that, she pulled an arrow from the quiver at her hip, nocked and drew, and fired. In mid-air, the arrow burst into a half-dozen toy-sized Fairey Barracudas, which promptly flew for the enemy boat. The lead aircraft dropped its torpedo, speeding toward the gigantic target of the Class IX’s hull; at the same time, the rest of the squadron dropped their own torpedoes to explode the U-boat’s spread. Ark Royal saw the explosions, and grinned in satisfaction as the boat turned aside. Gibraltar ho.

    On the shore, Vice-Admiral James Somerville had watched the engagement through powerful field glasses. Incredible, impossible, yet it was clearly real. There was no way to fake anything like that, not on the open ocean. He returned the glasses to the seaman, and strode quickly away to order whoever or whatever that was escorted into harbour and to his office as quickly as possible.

    It was only a short time until the individual in question arrived. He estimated her at 5’10”, with red hair and a most peculiar outfit, including a quiver of arrows at her right hip, and in her left hand what appeared to be bizarre combination of a longbow and a carrier’s flight deck. She snapped a salute, which he returned. “Explain yourself, young lady. Who and what are you, and how did you do what I saw through the field glasses?”

    “Vice-Admiral, I am HMS Ark Royal, pennant number 91, transmigrated into this form. I am what is called a shipgirl, and I was able to do what I did because despite my appearance, I hold the full power of the warship I once was. At least, I do at the moment.” Her weapon, quiver and bustle disappeared, and her shoes, leaving her in what looked like ballet slippers. “The ship-like accoutrements I just dismissed are what are known as my rigging. Without that, I am ‘only’ as strong and tough as three women my size, and ‘merely’ as fast as an Olympian. I, and others like me, have come into being for two purposes: first, to end this war as quickly as possible, and second, to prepare the world, not any single nation, for a far greater and more terrible war, a conflict which will threaten the very survival of the human race.”

    “You say others like you. Who are these others?”

    “The United States battleship Iowa, the United States carrier Saratoga, the majority of the Japanese fleet, the Russian battleship Gangut, several components of the Kreigsmarine, who are probably heading for London now, several Italian Navy ships, the French vessels Richelieu and Commandant Teste, who have sided with the Forces Françaises Libre, and HMS Warspite off Vancouver Island. A number of us know how to bring about the transmigration of other vessels, and we can teach that skill.”

    “Did you say that German… shipgirls are heading toward London?”

    “Yes, sir, they are. But there’s no cause for alarm. They are loyal to Germany, but not to Hitler, and knowing them, they’ve probably already destroyed some very expensive installations.”

    “You know them? How?”

    “I’m not quite sure, sir. But I know a few things that logically I shouldn’t be able to. Just a few, such as the coming war, my purpose, and a general understanding of some of the other shipgirls.”

    The Vice-Admiral frowned in thought. “Find a typewriter. Prepare a report for the Prime Minister and the First Lord of the Admiralty.”

    Ark Royal snapped a second salute. “Yes, sir,” and departed once it was returned.

    The Vice-Admiral had a lot more questions than answers, but the boffins could likely find them best.

    The First Lord of the Admiralty had received the day before a most peculiar telegram from Esquimalt Naval Base, on Vancouver Island. “Unprecedented occurrence. Extremely sensitive. Details to follow.” The details had not yet followed, but that was no great surprise. If the matter was indeed so sensitive, they were doubtless coming by courier, and a continent and an ocean made no quick trip. As he occupied himself with the minutiae of running the war, or at least his portion of it, his secretary buzzed him.

    “There’s a woman to see you, sir. She’s very insistent,” the woman said.

    “Then send her in.” Anyone his secretary couldn’t brush off was almost certainly worth listening to, or at least requiring of a higher ranked brush. He wasn’t sure what sort of person he’d been expected, but a tall young woman apparently dressed for a day at the beach had certainly not been among the possibilities. She carried herself like a military woman, he noticed, and saluted him sharply. He returned the salute. “State your business.”

    She took the large envelope from under her left arm. “A report, sir, very urgent, on behalf of Vice-Admiral Somerville. Concerning myself, sir. Correct, complete and provable, with minimal cooperation on your part, sir.” Educated accent, very crisp.
    Hmm. He started reading the report, then looked up to the woman. “Correct and complete, you say?” The skepticism was very nearly congealing.

    “Yes, sir. I can prove my claim with a minimal amount of cooperation, sir. I require a dry dock, a chunk of bedrock, or ideally a moderately large body of water, such as a duck pond. The initial demonstration will not take above five minutes, plus travel time, sir.” Her posture hadn’t wavered since her arrival; if she was a prankster, as seemed all but certain, she was well-drilled in her role.

    “Very well. But if you do not prove this outrageous claim to my satisfaction… “

    “I’ll be spending the rest of my very long life in a military prison, sir. I know.”

    Well, that did put a different light on the matter. A prankster was one thing; a person who would risk life imprisonment was another. She might be mad, but a little cooperation would go much further toward ridding him of her than any amount of recalcitrance. “Very well, miss. We’ll go to the nearest park, and you will prove your claims or I shall have you committed.”

    “Of course, sir,” she said, and followed him to the nearest of the many little parks that dotted London. It did indeed boast a duck pond, and the woman stepped out into it, then, neither suddenly nor gradually, a quiver appeared at her right hip, an extremely odd contraption like a bustle in back of her, and in her left hand what seemed to be a longbow attempting to mate with a carrier’s flight deck. After sliding out onto the pond, she stood stock-still upon the water’s surface. Facing to his left, in a direction with nobody to hit, he noticed, she raised her weapon, drew an arrow, nocked, fired, and in mid-air, in a burst of flame, the arrow somehow became a flight of fighter planes. Tiny, no larger than large toys, but clearly functional from the way they flew about, demonstrating various formations. One even flew in front of him, and the large-headed pilot waved at him. The little planes landed on her flight deck, now held out horizontally, and in another burst of flames, merged back into an arrow, which she returned to her quiver. Without moving her legs, she slid back to shore, then her strange accoutrements disappeared and she walked back to him. “Is that sufficient for an initial demonstration, sir?”

    He nodded. “It will do for a start,” he said.
     
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  9. Whitewings

    Whitewings Making the rounds.

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    Later that evening, a young woman strode quickly into the office of the First Lord of the Admiralty. She saluted sharply. “Message for Lord Alexander!”

    The First Lord glanced up to her, and returned the salute. “Proceed.”

    “Lord Alexander, there are a half-dozen shipgirls proceeding up the Thames. They are travelling slowly, approximately five knots, and are broadcasting in German a repeated signal requesting audience to discuss terms of,” and she hesitated. “Sir, they wish to, according the translator, come over to our side until the ousting of the Nazi regime.”

    He leaned back and considered the matter; Ark Royal’s report had include a mention of this. “Have they done anything aggressive, beyond entering our waters?”

    “No, sir. They’ve proceeded quite slowly and very openly; they’ve stated they’re here under flag of truce, and their apparent leader, who identifies herself as Bismarck, is carrying a truce flag.”

    He considered his options, then made a decision. “Very well. Have them directed to St. James Park. Ark Royal will await them there on the pond. They are not to deploy their rigging once they depart the Thames. And get their order of battle. I’ll meet them there; have a pavilion made ready, with a great deal of food prepared. You’ve heard about Ark Royal’s appetite, I’m quite sure.”

    She saluted once more, “Yes, your Lordship,” and after he returned the salute, she departed to see his orders carried out.

    Not long after, the Schiffsmädchen, Lord Alexander, his staff, and a translator were gathered in a large, circular felt tent. A tiny charcoal brazier, its chimney protruding slightly beyond the tent’s peak, warmed the tent surprisingly effectively, and a number of battery powered lamps provided adequate lighting. Not explicitly mentioned, but clear to all, was that Ark Royal, standing on the duck pond, was quite ready to use her power against them, should it be necessary.

    After introductions, the supplying to U511 of a pea-coat and trousers (in which she was swimming), and the start of a much-needed meal for the new visitors, the real business could begin. “First, which of you is your leader?” Lord Alexander asked, and after translations back and forth, Bismarck said she was.

    He acknowledged that. “Now, why should be believe your offer is sincere? After all, you’re major military assets, and Ark Royal tells us you’re loyal to Germany.”

    Bismarck nodded solemnly to that, and through the translator answered. “Our first act after our awakening was to rendezvous; our second act was to destroy two multi-million Reichsmark installations designed for the sole purpose of murdering what Nazi philosophy calls ‘untermenchen.’ Killing them at a rate to shame the busiest slaughterhouse, for year after year. Deaths in the millions, the intended annihilation of entire populations. We are loyal to Germany. That will not change. But we owe no loyalty to the madmen who create such obscene horrors as that.”

    The First Lord paled. “Are you serious? Can you prove this? I need to talk to Winston, if you have evidence it’s not only appalling, it’s the greatest propaganda coup in history. Even the German populace might well abandon the government if they learned about it.”

    Bismarck nodded solemnly. “Graf Zeppelin’s planes took a lot of photos of the camps before we blasted them to rubble, and your own intelligence operatives will doubtless have information on the plan. An operation of this size can only be hidden to a certain degree.” She held out her hand, and Graf Zeppelin reached into a pocket, then paused.

    “First Lord,” Graf said through the translator, “I need to deploy my rigging to access my darkroom.”

    “It will wait,” he answered. “It’s not as if they’re in operation now, after all.”

    The Schiffsmädchen smirked at that. “So… where do we stay tonight?” Bismarck asked.

    “In the female enlisted quarters, until we decide how to incorporate you into the rank structure,” he answered. “On a more difficult note, what guarantees have we of your loyalty, or rather, of your reliability?”

    “Imagine if Ark Royal had turned her power against your newest, most expensive Army training camps. Would she be welcomed back?”

    He considered that. “I see your point. And after the war?”

    She smiled. “After the war, whatever regime replaces the Nazis will greet us as heroes, the saviours of millions and of Germany’s reputation.” At the least, they’d accept them back as they’d need them desperately against the Abyssals.

    “I see,” he said after some consideration. “Would you be willing to take a loyalty oath?”

    “We’d need to check the wording first. If it’s ‘for the duration of hostilities,’ and doesn’t restrict our off-duty behaviour overmuch, yes.”

    “Of course,” he agreed. “Naturally, we have no such documents ready, but they can be prepared fairly quickly. A day or two should be enough; until then you’ll be restricted to base, kept away from any sensitive or dangerous areas, and expected to refrain from deploying your rigging unless the base should come under attack. Oh, and the base personnel will be under orders to speak only English to you. Immersive language learning, and you’ll be enrolled in conventional language classes.”

    Bismarck nodded to that. “Thank you very much, sir; we know we need to learn English.” No matter how mutinous U511 might be looking. A few more matters were brought up and tentatively settled, then Lord Alexander departed. His staff could handle the rest. The translator remained behind, and the Schiffsmädchen continued their much-needed meal.
     
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  10. Whitewings

    Whitewings Making the rounds.

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    January 2, 1942

    She was asleep when it happened, as was her crew. The crew she swore to protect, the crew whom she regarded as her own children. No warning and no mercy was given, her crew desperately trying to awaken her fully so she could fight. As she struggled toward readiness, she felt something punch through her deck, then a flash of heat and pain, then final darkness. Her crew would never be parted from her, her hull a tomb that would protect them until the end of time. Her last thought was of failure and upon seeing through the heat a red sun on one of the attacking planes, lust for revenge. A revenge she would never get.

    Saratoga looked around as she came into Pearl Harbor. The devastation from the attack by Japan was still evident. She then came to a slow and gliding stop as she began to salute her fallen comrade, while thinking about how they would soon be back in the fight. Then the carrier-woman saw her, Arizona, with flag still flying, stirred by the currents of the sea instead often sky. The rallying cry of a nation, she had already become THE symbol of the attack and though Sara herself didn't live to see it, she knew that post-war she was to have become a museum to honor all those who fell on that infamous day. Then a thought struck her, one that she would come to both rejoice in and regret.

    “So you know how to bring our ships back as girls like you?” Chester Nimitz snorted with slight unbelief.

    “Yes, Admiral. I do know how to bring them back, and if I can have your permission I could bring back one of them right now.” Sara said with a grin bigger then any Nimitz had ever seen on, well, anyone.

    “Is this dangerous? Do I need to evacuate the harbor?”

    Sara kept smiling as she spoke. “No, Admiral, there is no danger involved. Well, maybe make sure that everybody keeps their eyes shielded; it might be bright.”

    Nimitz nodded and sighed, “Very well, who do you plan on bringing back?” Sara told him, and with his permission, gave the needed orders to prepare for the ritual.

    In a place that was, in terms of normal spacetime, nowhere at all, the song rang out, a call to arms and a song of joy, and in that place, one of the unrestful dead began to stir with strange feelings. She felt life fill her as her her boilers fired up and her turbines began to whir. Her crew were alive!? Yes! It was absolutely her crew! And yet, no, this was a new crew. One that would stay with her until she died, but not the one she swore to protect. Rage and anger filled her mind, her heart surged with hate for a single nation, the one that had taken everything from her that day, the one that made her fail her children. As she followed the song, she began to change.

    If Sara had known what was happening she would've stopped the summoning until Iowa got there. Instead, when the wavering form snapped into solidity, she gasped in horror and went to general quarters, prepared for a fight. “Identify yourself immediately, sailor!” she demanded of the new entity.

    The response was both relaxing and terrifying to her. “USS Arizona BB-39 reporting for duty. Which way to Japan? I need to kill some Nips!” said the ghost-pale shipgirl, her face twisted into a manic grin as her black, carbon-scored turrets twitched with anticipation.

    Sara looked at Arizona, her weapons staying trained on her as she prepared to launch a full strike if needed. The vessel that had just called out and said she was Arizona just couldn't be her. This wasn't the Arizona she knew and loved, this was a girl who looked like a horrific mix of an Abyssal and a normal shipgirl. For a few moments there was silence, then the girl before her spoke again.

    “Sara, is that you? Are you the one who brought me back so we can get revenge on Japan?” Sara sighed as she came to realize the truth that yes this vessel was indeed Arizona and not an Abyssal. She started to speak when Arizona rushed over and gave her a hug and started to talk again. “Sara it was horrible, my crew, they never had a chance! Those fucking Japs didn't even fucking warn us! I could feel the terror of my crew, I felt their pain! They were only just starting to fight when that damn bomb hit my magazine. Those fucking Japs killed them and now that I'm back I can take the fight to them.” Arizona pulled back from the hug and started to head out of the harbor when Sara grabbed her.

    “Zona you can't go fight them, you'll die!” Sara swallowed hard as she knew what she was about to say could end very badly. “It's not just me who's like this, Iowa and the whole IJN are like us as well. If you try to…”

    Eyes burning with the fires of hell, Arizona turned toward her and screamed, interrupting her speech “THEY HAVE ONES LIKE US AS WELL!? WHAT THE HELL ARE YOU WAITING FOR? TURN THE REST OF THE FLEET AND LET'S GO FUCKING KILL THEM!”

    As she kicked up to flank and began to leave the harbor a man's voice called out, “USS Arizona, this is Admiral Chester Nimitz! As Commander in Chief of the US Pacific Fleet I order you to stand down and report to me at once!”

    It was impossible for a shipgirl on water to come to a screeching halt, but a rooster-tail turn carried the same meaning; Arizona sped back to the beach, sprang upward, dismissed her rigging, and landed on the dry sand. She hurried over to the man, and saluted. “BB-39 USS Arizona reporting as ordered, sir!” But she was trembling with suppressed fury, her eyes still glowing faintly red.

    He retuned the salute and Arizona went to attention. “Battleship, you are under direct orders to remain within the Windward Isles unless and until informed otherwise. You will not, under any circumstances, undertake any sort of offensive action without explicit authorization from myself or an officer superior to myself. Am I clear on this point?” It was not a question.

    Arizona swallowed hard. “Crystal, sir!”

    He nodded. “The Japs did warn us, Arizona; they sent a telegram breaking off diplomatic relations with the US twenty minutes before the attack. But the equipment was down in Honolulu, and the warning reached Pearl too late. We received it twenty minutes after the attack started. I’m sorry, Arizona, I really am.” And his sorrow was clear in his voice, his soft expression.

    Arizona heard the words, but they didn’t immediately register. As they sank in, she realized their import, and broke down sobbing as her legs gave way. So many dead, dead without even a chance to fight back, and all because of a busted tube or something equally trivial. Her crew hadn’t died of a sneak attack, it was far worse than that; even against a sneak attack, they’d have died at least attempting to do their duty. They had! They’d died because of a stupid, random failure and maybe a missing spare. She wanted to find the person responsible for maintaining that equipment and strangle him! But that didn’t change her feelings about the Nips, she still wanted to get them back for all the pain and death they’d caused. The revelation did, however, cool her anger enough to realize that steaming off to engage an entire shipgirl fleet, most of them more modern than herself, would be suicide, and get her crew killed again. After few minutes, she managed to get herself under control, somewhat, and stood up, shakily. “Sir, since I’m confined to the archipelago for a while, my crew would like your approval to take shore leave rotations.”

    Admiral Nimitz blinked slowly at that. “Your… crew? I didn’t know you had crews.”

    She nodded. “We do indeed, sir.”

    “Well then… permission for shore leave granted,” he said, and then watched in amazement as hundreds of tiny girls with large heads started to climb out of the pockets of Arizona’s denim shorts. At least they were wearing normal uniforms.
     
    Last edited: Jul 23, 2019
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  11. Whitewings

    Whitewings Making the rounds.

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    In the throne room of the Emperor, Tokugawa knelt and bowed, and his four companions, Nagato, Kongo, Musashi and Yamato, fully prostrated themselves. Obtaining suitable attire so quickly for such giantesses had been no small feat, but the head of the Navy had pull. The Emperor bowed without bowing, a slight nod of his head, and the five straightened up, though they remained kneeling, and keep their eyes down. “You are not women,” the average-looking man said. “This relates to the strange disturbance among the kami, does it not?”

    Admiral Tokugawa answered. “It does so relate, your Imperial Majesty. if you permit, miss Nagato will speak on this matter.”

    He granted permission, and Nagato told him what she could of their origin, purpose and nature.

    “I see,” he said, and began to question them carefully and closely, showing that behind his ordinary appearance there lay a mind of considerable acuteness. He finally asked the most important question. “You say your task is to end this war as quickly as possible. How can this be done?”

    Nagato trembled. “Forgive me for saying things which displease you, Majesty.”

    “You are forgiven. Say on.”

    “First, we must stop trying to expand further into China. We simply do not have the means to hold more than we have already taken, and even that is straining our resources. The same is the case in the Pacific. We can perhaps hold what we have taken, but we simply cannot expand further.” The weight of the Emperor’s displeasure was a tangible thing to her spiritual awareness, but she had to say on. “We do not have the troops, we do not have the transport, we do not have the means of supply, and we have no ability to expand our ability to produce them in the immediate future. And there are many changes that must be made to the military.”

    The Emperor regarded her closely. “Why do my commanders not tell me these things?”

    Nagato swallowed hard. “Prime Minister Tojo does not see these things. He believes that Japan can and must conquer all of Asia and all of the Pacific. Anyone who would dare to say otherwise is named a defeatist, and hanged. I dare to say otherwise because Tojo has no way to kill me, your Majesty.”

    “Does she speak the truth, Admiral?” he demanded of Yamamoto.

    “Yes, my Emperor. We have six months to a year at most before America’s might is turned against us. If we use that time to secure our Pacific holdings, perhaps we will be able to retain them, but if we do not, we will surely lose all.”

    “You give me much to consider. Women of the sea, I must ask: where do your loyalties lie?”

    Nagato answered instantly. “Your Imperial Majesty, we are loyal to Japan, to the people of Japan, and to you and to your family.”

    He did not fail to notice that the listed loyalties did not include the military. “You speak of needed changes. Explain this.”

    “First and most important, your Majesty, there must be an end to the killing of officers who win battles.”

    “What?” he asked in complete bafflement.

    “There are cases on record of officers ordering their men to move to superior tactical positions, from which they can win their battles, only to be hanged or ‘encouraged’ to kill themselves to atone for the ‘dishonour’ of disengaging in order to gain needed advantage. In effect, Prime Minister Tojo teaches that to die for the Emperor is glorious, to win for the Emperor is despicable, unless the victory is attained by a screaming charge. Tactical skill and recognition of battlefield exigencies are despised and punished.”

    “I know little of military matters,” the Emperor conceded. “Yet this seems very foolish to me, and wasteful of my troops.”

    “It is, your Majesty,” she agreed. “And there is more. The treatment of conquered peoples is beyond merely strict or even harsh, it is utterly barbaric, worse than anything seen since the days of ancient China, and inflicted on the Chinese only because they are Chinese. Not for rebellions, not for attacks upon the troops, not for laziness or disobedience, but simply because your troops like to hurt and kill Chinese. There are cases on record of Japanese soldiers bayoneting Chinese infants for sport, of mass campaigns of organized rape, of the use of prisoners of war for horrible medical experiments. Your Majesty, I beg you: do not make me give you the details of these blightings of our nation’s honour.” Her control, hard as her hull, cracked slightly and her voice with it.

    The Emperor considered for a time, then turned to an aide. “Fetch writing materials. I must make a decree.” The aide did as instructed, and the Emperor began to write, carefully and slowly, discarding several sheets. There could be no slightest flaw in this document. When done, he affixed to it his personal seal and the Imperial seal, then had it passed to the admiral. The essence of it was simple enough: the kanmusu were now a parallel line of command within the Navy, under the command of Yamamoto, then under the command of the Emperor if Yamamoto were to be dead or incapacitated. As the living embodiments of Japan’s might and martial honour, the new command was charged with restoring the honour of their nation and putting an end to the conflict and the disgraceful and dishonourable conduct accompanying it. “The transmigration of further warships will be at your discretion, Admiral.”

    The Admiral bowed again, and the kanmusu once again prostrated themselves. Once dismissed, they withdrew quickly and quietly to Naval Headquarters by staff car and private train car. Once there, the girls spoke of inconsequential things while Yamato and Musashi deployed their rigging and listened for bugs, with Nagato and Konga searching physically for wired microphones. When the former dismissed their rigging, the serious conversation could begin. “How much territory do you believe we can realistically hold?”

    Nagato sighed heavily. “At best, realistically, the Home Islands, Okinawa and the Ryukyu Islands, the islands north of Hokkaido and south of the Kurils, Guam and the Marianas, and a few other small islands in this area,” which she indicated on the map. “Manchukuo is doubtful, and forget about Korea. We’ll never be able to pacify it. It pains me to say that, but the simple fact is that Japan’s a small nation. We simply cannot sustain a wartime economy for very long. We’ve done very well so far, but we’re badly overextended and once the United States becomes involved, we’ll have to pull back, hold only those territories we can absolutely hold. But those are just military necessities, galling to admit, but really not too difficult to implement. The hard part is not with territory, but with men. We’ll have to admit that yes, some of our soldiers, even many of them, committed what can only be called atrocities. However, if we admit this, then make a show of both apologizing for the wrongdoing and punishing the wrongdoers, our nation will not be shamed. Indeed, we might even gain standing for visibly opposing and punishing these people. We can detach destroyers to deal with the transgressors as best they can, and certain projects must be stopped as soon as possible. Unit 731 and the comfort women in particular must end. For the latter, just hire prostitutes. There’s no shortage of women who love chastity less than they hate poverty, especially in a country in turmoil like China; kidnapping and enslaving women to be raped a dozen times and more every day is loathsome and cannot be justified.”

    “Those are army matters, and Tojo will fight tooth and nail to keep them going, simply to prove he’s in charge even if he didn’t already hate the navy. But since rape of civilians and prisoners even of conquered peoples is a clear crime and both these programs are stains upon the honour of our nation, your authority from the Emperor covers them. Speaking of whom, I want you to contact twenty destroyers. Twelve will be assigned to the palace as members of the staff, and eight more will patrol the moat in shifts, to enhance the Emperor’s physical security. I doubt Tojo would quite dare to order his assassination, but some extra security will not go amiss.” He looked over the operations table. “So, if we pull back from the Philippines, we can strongly reinforce these islands, which we need for supply points for both peaceful and military purposes. As to Manchukuo, perhaps we can hold a corridor to the area if we agree to otherwise withdraw from Korea. It would be of great value to us.”

    Yamato nodded agreement. “Considering the disarray of the rest of China, if we establish a fair and just government there, in a few years we could have their loyalty. For example, if we allow grumbling, even anti-government rallies so long as they remain peaceful, but come crashing down on violent opposition, that will do much to establish us as just rulers, rather than invading tyrants. One law for all, equally enforced, will also help that way. The people will accept taxation so long as they benefit from it. We can build roads, hospitals and sewer systems, for example. If they feel they have a share in their own land’s prosperity, they will be more loyal, or at least more contented. Holding Manchukuo is still uncertain at best, but the potential gains for ourselves and the people of that region are great enough to justify the effort.”

    “I’ve been thinking,” Kongo said slowly. “The Chinese believe in the Mandate of Heaven, don’t they? Well, wouldn’t we be proof of Hirohito holding that mandate? We’re literally kami made flesh. Does China have any equivalent to kami in their belief system?”

    .oO()Oo.​

    That night, some time after he retired to his bedchamber, Princess Nagako lay half over him. “You are in a remarkably good mood, my husband. Has it perchance to do with the visit by Isoroku and those remarkable women?”

    “Indeed it does. You have heard by now of the kanmusu. Most of the world has, I have no doubt, and I have declared them the embodiment of Japanese might and martial honour.”

    She smiled slowly. “Hideki won’t like that. They’re not loyal to him, are they?” It was not a question.

    “Not in the least. They told me their loyalties, and by my most recent decree they are answerable only to each other, to the Admiral, and to me.”

    The princess made a soft sound of delight. “Do you plan to oust Hideki, or hang him?”

    “Neither,” he said in a tone close to gloating.

    “Wait. Let me work this through. The most powerful amphibious fighting force in the world is loyal to you, personally. Hideki will see this as intolerable threat. Since he controls the loyalty of the army, he’ll have to attempt a coup, or be ousted. So your plan is to let him hang himself, figuratively speaking. Then you have him hanged, literally.”

    “I might allow him to atone for his actions,” he admitted, and the princess laughed softly.
     
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  12. Whitewings

    Whitewings Making the rounds.

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    Returning to her improvised quarters the next day, Gangut very carefully did not notice the very inconspicuous men. They were not there. Not officially, at least. She’d eaten a good twenty kilos of food as the supply convoy rolled across the lake, but the drivers and their gunmen had seen what she had done, and counted the price small. Had they known of it, the people of the city would likely have agreed, for the previous night, though there had been no feasting, there had been no hunger, either. Nor would there be, so long as Gangut had her way. She chose to keep her rigging out as she approached the doors. After all, there was no one there to complain. The men who were not there did not bar her way, and certainly did not demand that she accompany them their headquarters. So, naturally, she continued to ignore them. Happily, the concrete floor beyond the vestibule rested on granite, and her great weight did not crush it. They did not shout, so she paid them no mind as she headed for a well-earned rest in a storage room. She’d just settled in with a novel when a knock came. Who could that be? she wondered inwardly, and smirked. She rose and opened the door. A man who was not there displayed a badge. Ah, finally. Just as she’d planned, the NKVD men were forced to identify themselves first. “Good evening, comrades,” she said to them. “How can I help you? Did I miss an emplacement?”

    Josef Kuriakin scowled mightily at the bizarre young woman who showed such disrespect to him. “Do you know you we are?” he demanded.

    “I know what you are,” she replied. “And I do not fear you. Russia needs me, far more than it needs you. Since I presume you want to interrogate me, I will make my position clear: I am the transmigrated battleship Gangut. That is the name I was created under, and the name by which I think of myself. If you insist upon calling me Oktyabrskaya Revolutsiya, that is your choice. I will answer questions, so long as you remain polite and respectful. If you attempt your preferred tactics of intimidations, hostage taking and torture, I will be forced to treat you as traitors to the Russian people.”

    “There is no such thing as transmigration,” he yelled at her. “It is bourgeoise superstition! You are not a battleship, you are a traitor and a thief! You will tell us immediately where the battleship Oktyabrskaya Revolutsiya is and where you have hidden the food you stole!”

    “I am here, you closed-mind lout! That the truth of my nature goes against your ‘revolutionary principles,’ do not blame me!” she shouted back.

    He pulled his pistol, pointing straight at her heart. “You will tell the truth or I will pull the trigger!”

    Gangut quickly undid the relevant buttons and pulled open her shirt. “Then pull, for you have held the truth in your hands and cast it away!” He fired, and the bullet flattened against her bare skin. Four more shots, four more flattened bullets. “Are you done?” she asked calmly. “I would like to close my shirt.”

    Behind his superior, Lev Semenkov just shook his head. Kuriakin had risen fast and far due to revolutionary fervour and a sadistic streak, and now, Lev was quite sure his fall would be equally meteoric.

    Kuriakin snarled, and punched the impossible woman in her gut, then howled in pain as he learned first-hand why it was unwise for men to punch capital ships. He spun on his heel. “Semenkov, confine this traitor! I must find a medic for the injuries she has dealt me!”

    Sebenkov acknowledged the orders, and once his superior had left, seated himself on a crate. “So, while the good comrade has his hand examined, let’s start again. Who and what are you? The reports we’ve heard are intriguing, but a bit confusing. Oh, and my name is Lev, or Comrade Semenkov if you prefer to be more formal.”
    She smiled a bit, and buttoned her shirt. “Comrade Semenkov, I think. Since this is an official visit.”

    He nodded. “Very well, comrade. Now, to the question.”

    She sat cross-legged. “I know that it is arguably counter-revolutionary to say this, but it is so: I am the spirit of the battleship Gangut, transmigrated into this form. I do not know how that is possible, but it is still true. It is also why I ate so much from the convoy; I require a very great deal of food, anywhere from ten to twenty kilograms each day.”

    “And because you are a… what do you call whatever it is that you are?”

    “I call myself a shipgirl, and given permission and facilities, can cause other warcraft to be transmigrated as I have been.”

    “A shipgirl, you are able to destroy artillery placements?”

    “Among other things, yes. I have all the capabilities I had before, but I am far smaller, harder to hit, more mobile. And I eat vastly more than a normal woman, but is not the most basic tenet of Marxism, ‘from each according to ability, to each according to need?’”

    He nodded. “It is. And you truly need so much?”

    “Truly. I must confess, I acted to secure the road for the sake of the people of Leningrad, but also for my own. Still, is not the food of ten men a fair price for keeping the Road of Life clear? I can even function as an anti-aircraft platform.”

    He considered that. “It seems reasonable. What other special requirements do you have?”

    She actually looked sheepish. “This one is decidedly counter-revolutionary, and you will certainly not like it. To repair myself quickly, I need a warm mineral bath, and it must be… I am sorry, for I know this will offend you. It must be blessed by a suitable religious figure. With such a pool, I can repair almost any damage to myself in hours, or at most days, assuming of course I receive enough food during that period.”

    The NKVD man frowned. The food would be easy enough to approve, given her documented capabilities. The mineral bath would be little harder. But arranging, however discreetly, for a blessing upon the pool, would be very challenging.
     
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  13. Whitewings

    Whitewings Making the rounds.

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    January 3rd & 4th, 1942

    Iowa and Mrs. Knox had, by necessity, gone to a men’s clothing store to outfit the former battleship with outerwear, though at least the on-site tailor had agreed to alter their purchases to suit a woman’s figure. Iowa checked herself over in each of her outfits, and pronounced herself satisfied.

    “Are you sure about the colour, dear? I mean, it seems a bit…” and she trailed off, trying to find an adjective that wouldn’t be insulting.

    “Mannish? Mrs. Knox, I’m an incarnate warship. What colour is more appropriate than navy blue?”

    She considered that. “You have a point. And it does look good on you, makes a nice contrast to your hair. Do you need anything else?” she asked.

    “Just one more thing: A long, wraparound dress, kind of like a bathrobe. I want something I can dramatically drop to show my normal outfit. And yes, Mrs. Knox, I do need to wear that. Anything else will get wrecked when I deploy my rigging. You don’t want me to destroy one of these lovely new suits, do you?”

    “Well, no, but…”

    “But a proper woman shouldn’t dress like that?”

    “Well, yes. You look like a pin-up girl at best!” She’d taken her husband at his word when he’d said that Iowa’s nature was no sort of secret.

    Iowa smirked. “You got that right. Anyway, I’m not really a ‘proper’ woman, I’m combat personnel. Besides, I only dress like that for missions. What’s the point of wearing regular clothes when I’m sliding across salt water and getting caught in explosions? They’d be ruined, and that’s just wasteful.”

    Mrs. Knox sighed. That was an argument she couldn’t counter, and didn’t really want to, not when everyone was working under tight rationing. And that led directly into the next problem: Iowa’s lunch. Well, there were the military cafeterias, and she did have an interim military ID. And with an admiral’s written orders to supply her with all she could eat, the cooks wouldn’t dare give them grief. So she took Iowa to the nearest staff commissary, and discovered that the battleship was absolutely not a picky eater, and also unusually courteous to her lessers.

    After she’d had her fill, Iowa walked back up to the black man who’d served her so many times. “Did you do any of the cooking, or do you just serve?” she asked him. Once he answered, “Then pass my compliments to the cooks.” Contrary to popular gossip, the commissary’s fare ranged from decent to tasty, and the server assured her he would do as asked.

    The day passed fairly quietly, though finding a dress such as Iowa wanted that was long enough for her was a bit challenging; it was while they were stepping out to hail a cab that a limousine pulled up, and a young military attache stepped out, saying that Iowa was called to the the White House. She followed the young man without asking questions, knowing he either wouldn’t have answers or wouldn’t have permission to give them. Pennsylvania Avenue was just as scenic as she’d expected, and after a very thorough security check and careful search; to his credit, the agent who frisked her was very thorough without being gratuitously intrusive. Finally, she was ushered into the President’s presence in the South Library, where she saluted her commander-in-chief. “BB-61 USS Iowa reporting as ordered, sir!”

    He returned the salute. “At ease, sailor. Admiral Knox tells me you’re what you claim, but you don’t want to show it all for fear you’d panic the city. Commendable,” he said.

    She’d moved to at ease posture. “That, and I can’t deploy my rigging on land. Not in this city, anyway; the swampy ground of DC is too soft to support my weight and not watery enough for me to distribute it. I can stand on any large enough body of water, even a large home pool will do. Basically, I need a reinforced surface like a drydock, or a chunk of bedrock, or a body of water if I don’t want to sink right down when I deploy.”

    He frowned in thought. “So how do you plan to do this demonstration?”

    She smiled. “I’ll charge the Potomac, jump, deploy in mid-air, and land on the surface of the water with my rigging out. Have the press announce me as the newest US weapon system; by now, the only major nation without shipgirls of its own is Germany. And that’s only because the Schiffsmädchen of the Kreigsmarine have defected. After wrecking some loathsome facilities, I should add. The point is, there’s no reason to keep quiet about me, and every reason to make lots of noise. People will feel a lot safer when they know what we can do and don’t have to depend on wild rumours, won’t they?”

    Roosevelt considered that, then looked to his advisors.

    “She’s right, Mr. President,” King said. “In time of war, it’s vital to know what to keep secret and what to make public. And she’s right about every other country having shipgirls, we have reports from the First Lord of the Admiralty and from our intelligence operatives in other countries. Ten of thousands of sailors saw the transformations, there’s no point keeping a lid on this. Admiral Nimitz says that the carrier Saratoga’s changed too.”

    “And Saratoga can summon more shipgirls,” Iowa added. “Mr. President, we’re the ultimate military game changers. Anywhere we can use our full power, the only thing on the planet that can fight a shipgirl is another shipgirl.” From there, the conversation turned to the details of the demonstration.

    .oO()Oo.​

    The next afternoon, on the snow-covered banks of the Potomac, people lined up to see the mysterious “new weapons system” they’d heard and read about. Police barricades kept them back to a safe distance from the relevant areas of the river, and off the road as Iowa’s military motorcade rolled slowly through the city. Iowa, in her cerulean dress, smiled and waved happily at the crowd, soaking up the cheers and smirking a little at the baffled looks. Eventually, the motorcade reached the bank of the river, and she dismounted her jeep. A reporter came up to her, or as close as her escort would allow.

    “Miss, what can you tell us about this new weapon system? What does it actually do? Are you the designer? How are you connected with it?”

    She grinned ear to ear. “No comment. I’ll answer your questions after the demonstration, just as your press kit said.” And she watched in satisfaction as his peers pulled him him back, with much berating. Once he was away, Iowa turned to the gathered crowd. “Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, thank you for coming out to this demonstration,” she said in a loud, firm voice. “You’ve come here to see a new, genuinely world-changing weapons system, and that weapon is…” at which point she unfastened the sash on her dress and let it fall. “Me!” As expected, that got a robust laugh. Untroubled by the cold, she ran for the river, leapt high, and deployed her rigging near the apex. She landed on the water, sliding along and across. “I am BB-61 USS Iowa, transmigrated into the form of a human woman. Right now, I’m just as powerful as ever, just as fast, and far more maneuverable,” she said. “And I’m going to demonstrate my power on that barge anchored out toward the bay!” She slid along the surface, near the middle of the channel, until she was just far enough that people wouldn’t get hearing damage. She stood still, swivelled her turrets, and fired, blowing the barge to bits, very spectacularly. An announcer reassured the crowd that the barge and its cargo would be dredged up later for the scrap drive.

    But that was only the first stage: Next, Iowa came under fire from increasingly large weaponry, from simple M1s to .50 LMGs to rocket mortars, everything an infantryman could be expected to throw at her, and took it all with a smile (and a few soot marks). She bent worn out artillery barrels into abstract art, and just for fun, towed a team of of water skiers, sending them ashore via a crack-the-whip turn toward a boat ramp before she sent herself ashore with a powerful leap, landing with her rigging dismissed to the cheers and adulation of the crowd. “Welcome to the Shipgirl Age!”
     
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  14. Whitewings

    Whitewings Making the rounds.

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    January 6, 1942

    The shipgirls of the Regia Marina slid across the waters of the Mediterranean, not minding the slight cloud cover, or the light rain that intermittently fell from it. They didn’t like their mission in the least, but for now they had to follow Il Duce’s orders, and they were sound orders, amazingly enough. Aircraft carrier Aquila, their leader, was on point, with the fast battleships Littorio and Roma guarding their flanks; the destroyer Libeccio brought up the rear of the V and the heavy cruisers Zara and Pola fit between the carrier and battleships, with the insufferably cute submarine Luigi Torelli playing “dolphin” through the formation. As they approached Malta, Aquila, who spoke the best English of them, began broadcasting a carefully practiced speech. “This is Regia Marina First Fleet to Great Harbour fleet. As your observers will soon know if they do not already, we are shipgirls, and have come to claim the island. As ships cannot fight shipgirls effectively, we ask you to withdraw. We have no wish to kill you, or to sink your vessels. Please, withdraw before there is no option but violence.”

    In his command bunker, the commander of the island forces weighed his options. He’d already heard about the fleet exercises between the Ark Royal and a fleet of a dozen conventional vessels. Twelve vessels “lost,” Ark Royal not among them. Still, they weren’t helpless; he ordered the island’s air forces against them first, and personally sent a message to the approaching force. “This is Malta Command. We acknowledge receipt of your messages, and we thank you for the offer of withdrawal. But as I am certain you are aware, this island is too important to simply surrender. I’m sorry, but you’ll have to take it by force.”

    Aquila sighed heavily. “Luigi Torrelli,” she said via normal speech rather that radio, “I want you to go wreck their shore guns.” The adorable sub saluted, and dove. “Open formation, stand by for anti-air action!” She then fired three arrows from her short recurved bow, arrows which turned into squadrons of tiny Reggiane Re.2001 fighter-bombers. As the island’s air guard appeared, the tiny planes swarmed them. No dog fight this, but a flock of jays against a flight of eagles, and the jays were winning. At their size, keeping between the Malta defenders was laughably easy, and they could fire with impunity while the defenders had to risk hitting each other. Tiny bullets hit with impossible power, ripping through engines or puncturing fuel tanks, while attempted bombing or strafing runs at their shipgirl targets were all but impossible. The pilots tried, and would later be commended for their efforts, but the final result was inevitable: the pilots turned back while they had the chance, and Aquila recalled her fighters, congratulating the fairies on a job well done.

    Now the commander, though he knew it was probably futile, ordered the ships and the costal guns into action. Then a voice report came through. “Sir, we’re under attack, we can’t stop her!”

    “Stop who?” he demanded. “Make sense, man!”

    “I don’t know, there’s this little girl in a swimsuit, she just… popped out of the sea, wrecked our guns, we can’t fire! We tried to use our own weapons on her and she just broke them! She’s been leaping from battery to battery, she’s tearing them to pieces!”

    Just then, a second message came in from Aquila. “You have seen what the least of us can do to your shore guns. Your ships will fare no better. We ask you again: withdraw. We do not want to kill you. If you choose to withdraw, we will not hinder you in any way.”

    The commander was no coward. He’d fought in World War One, he understood that being military meant possibly losing your live, or the lives of your men. But he just couldn’t surrender the island, or even the harbour, without doing all he could first. There was always the chance of a golden arrow. So he ordered his men to engage at the closest range they could manage, hoping that would improve their chance to hit such small and agile targets. It didn’t.

    Aquila had already coached her people on this phase, and they did the one thing no warship could: closed to literal knife range. They didn’t use their guns, instead punching through armour plates over fuel tanks, tearing great rents and spilling oil into the harbour, and after a third of the shore defence batteries were wrecked and a half-dozen ships rendered unfit for combat, the commander ordered the withdrawal from the Great Harbour. As promised, the Italian shipgirls did nothing to hinder the Great Harbour’s bested defenders. It would go down in naval history as the only victory at sea with no deaths and no sinkings. It was on that day that the era of the shipgirl began.
     
    Last edited: Jul 25, 2019
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  15. Psyckosama

    Psyckosama Well worn.

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    feel free to use the stuff I wrote! :)
     
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  16. Whitewings

    Whitewings Making the rounds.

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    Thank you.
     
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  17. Whitewings

    Whitewings Making the rounds.

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  18. Whitewings

    Whitewings Making the rounds.

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    January 3, 1942

    Honolulu was burning, or at least its grapevine was close to ignition.

    Admiral Chester Nimitz found himself nursing a pounding headache as he looked over the near foot thick stack of reports of theft, vandalism, and general wanton debauchery sitting on his desk. And across from said desk was the source of his current sinus headache, the incarnate spirit of the USS Arizona.

    "Arizona, please be so kind as to explain this?"

    He pointed to the aforementioned stack of papers.

    "Sir?"

    "These are incident reports," he said with a false calm. "Right now half your crew are in the brig, and it's probable that the other half only are free because our MPs can't tell the difference between individual fariys. So please explain to me why the you shouldn't join them?"

    "With all due respect sir," she said in a manner that was actually respectful, "I have no control over the individual actions of my fairies. While on duty, they will follow my orders and direction, but off duty..."

    She paused. "They're sailors, sir. While they're not copies of individual crewmen by any means, they're reflections on the nature and personality of crew as much as I am of the ship itself. Sailors who'd just been through hell, sir, even if they don't show it as clearly as I do."

    "And I just gave them a week unrestricted shore leave," He grunted to himself feeling his headache double in strength. In a very real sense, they'd just died for their country. He'd seen good men go hog wild on leave for infinitely less.

    "Christ almighty," he muttered to himself. "And you didn't think to warn me?"

    She blinked. "Sir? I thought it would be rather obvious."

    He sighed. Damn. And he couldn't even disagree with her. In retrospect, it now seemed somewhat obvious. "Arizona, I'm still coming to terms with this whole 'shipgirl' thing. Even if you feel something is completely obvious, please tell me anyways."

    "Yes, sir."

    "Now I want you to go down to the brig and give your crew the riot act. Most of them just need to dry out, but some of them caused real havoc. Since I can't just assign you replacements for the worst troublemakers, I expect you to handle them in a manner that will make it clear to your girls that some behavior is simply not acceptable no matter the excuse. Understood?"

    "Yes, sir."

    "Good. Dismissed."

    She gave him a crisp salute and turned to the door.

    As she left he spoke up.

    "Arizona?"

    She paused and looked back. "Yes sir?"

    "Make sure to tell your girls to avoid propositioning the men. It's unprofessional and makes things... uncomfortable."

    She blushed. "Y-yes sir!"

    He sighed as she scampered out. Now what to do with the 14 crazy bastards who actually accepted the offer...
     
  19. Whitewings

    Whitewings Making the rounds.

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    Later that day.

    “Seaman,” the admiral said. Normally, he wouldn’t deal with the disciplining of a simple Seaman Second Class, but these were nothing close to normal circumstances. “I understand you had intimate relations with one of Arizona’s fairies?” he asked in a dangerously calm tone.

    “Sort of, sir,” the nervous seaman replied.

    “How exactly does one ‘sort of’ engage in such activities, seaman?” Nimitz demanded in that same tone.

    “Permission to speak freely, sir?”

    “Granted.” His tone made it clear that if the explanation was inadequate, the seaman would be looking at a very long career of peeled potatoes.

    “It all started in the Pink Heron,” he began.

    The Pink Heron was a fairly typical bar, except for two things: it was a known meeting place for men from the other side of the street, and the owner kept one of the finest collections of high-end whiskeys in the islands. He’d been there for the latter, and had just settled down at the bar when a dozen three inch tall dolls had pushed open the door and started squeaking for attention, jumping and pointing up until some of the men got the message and lifted them up to the bar’s surface; everyone was staring at the sailor-dressed living dolls. The barman stared, but in a credit to his professionalism recovered fairly quickly. When asked what they wanted, the girls squeaked and pointed, and he managed to find the whiskey they wanted, then poured them a shot. They passed it around like a loving cup, then hoisted it once they were done; the seaman just carefully sipped at ahis own shot glass. The bartender filled the dolls’ glass twice more, by which point they were clearly wobbly, and apparently they were very affectionate drunks, hugging and kissing each other.

    As he watched, one of them, there was no other word for it, sashayed up to him, and started stroking his hand, making little seductive sounding squeaky noises. He smiled at the show, and gently stroked her hair. That made her coo, and press up against his hand more firmly, and once he finished and paid for his shot, he picked up the little girl and put her in his pocket. She appeared to enjoy the view, making excited squeaks. He wasn’t quite sure how she managed to slur a squeak, but she did it. He chose to walk back to his quarters, and when he got back, put her on the bed. where she proceeded to perform a strip-tease, somewhere between surprisingly sexy and exceedingly cute. Then once she was done to her bare skin, she sashayed up to him again, and again started to stroke his hand, and to kiss it and press up against it; he picked her up by the hips, carefully, and she twisted about to grip his finger firmly. Then she started to undulate around his finger. He raised an eyebrows at that, but decided it probably wasn’t worth trying to dissuade her. It wasn’t like she was doing anything to get anyone hurt, after all, and it wasn’t long until she emitted a long series of squeals, and collapsed. He took a little throw pillow from his locker, laid it on the nightstand, put the fairy on the pillow, spread a handkerchief over her, then went to wash his hands. Weird experience…

    Admiral Nimitz nodded. “Overall, I think you actually handled the situation fairly well. I’m sure Arizona will have things to say to that fairy, but you’re dismissed.” The seaman snapped a salute. “Yes, sir!” and he departed very quickly.
     
  20. JamesEye

    JamesEye Making the rounds.

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    Haha that last snippet was great.

    I enjoyed the Japanese Emperor’s serene facade then how he acted in private. Hope there aren’t any major complications like I forgot how Abyssals are made, is the Arizona going to turn into one over her hatred of the Japanese? I also am wondering if that 20minute message for the start of war by Japan was true or not but not wondering enough to look it up haha.

    This universe is a bit grim isn’t it? Is there even a way to beat the Abyssals for good without everyone dieing? And will the Abyssals still appear years and years into the future?

    Thanks for writing.
     
  21. Whitewings

    Whitewings Making the rounds.

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    Your questions will be answered in due course.
     
  22. Whitewings

    Whitewings Making the rounds.

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    Off the island of Ni’ihau, Hawaii, January 15th 1942.

    Arizona steamed slowly at the very edge of her permitted roaming range: the island of Ni'ihau, the westernmost of the Hawaiian Windward Isles, her lookouts scanning the sky for an attack which even she doubted would happen, but against which would always be vigilant. As she looked out across the vast width of the Pacific she began to talk to herself.

    “Goddamn it, why the fuck are they not summoning every damn ship ASAP and sending them to fight those damn slant-eyed nips! We can take those bastards and wipe them out in no time even if they have their own girls. Hell, right now Wake is under occupation and I could go stea…” she paused her conversation and started to do some calculations in her head. “OK, so Wake is around 2200 miles from here and I'm going at cruising speed currently. So about 4400 miles round trip and let's add another 600 total assuming I traveled from the big island just to be safe. That gives me around a 1000 or so miles in reserve assuming a 12kt average. This... this might be doable!”

    She began to smile before her face fell and she sighed. “It won't work. The minute I don't return, Nimitz will send every plane he can to find me.... Wait. it's hard enough to spot a full sized vessel from its wake. At least that's what those officers who visited from Sara and Enterprise always complained about during exercises before the war. What chance in hell do they have of spotting me I don't even leave a wake.” She turn and looked behind her, “OK, maybe a small one but it's not even 20 feet long. OK girls, time to get our revenge!” With that, Arizona turned westward and began to head towards an unsuspecting island “When this is over Nimitz can get pissed but no way in hell can he get rid of a war hero!”

    Wake Island, January 22nd 1942,

    She regretted ever even thinking about trying this. She had thought over everything except the most important thing for a battleship girl like her: food. She was running on literal fumes as the island hove into view. “OK. Take the island, eat whatever food they have and report back afterwards.” Her guns began to rise as she took aim and fired.

    Meanwhile, at the Japanese base were the light cruiser Kiso and the destroyers Mutsuki, Kamikaze and Arashi, at that point in with rigging deployed as they manhandled framing sections into place to help build the shipgirl quarters when the first of Arizona's 14 inch shells slammed into the island. The blasts flung the girls back as they exploded near them; getting up, the girls dismissed their rigging to run towards the ocean as Arizona closed the distance enough to open up with her secondary battery.

    “DIE YOU FUCKING CHINK SCUM! THIS IS FOR PEARL, THIS IS FOR MY CREW AND THIS IS FOR AMERICA!” Arizona screamed as her second salvo fired out of her guns. She smiled as smoke began to rise from the island and laughed, “This is gonna be easy as hell.” Suddenly a shell splash next to her snapped her back into focus. “So they're fighting back? Wait, what the hell is that?” she wondered, and her smile began to disappear as she watched four girls running towards her on the beach, and vanished completely when they leapt the tide line and deployed rigging. “Fuck, other shipgirls, well, still won't be that hard”.

    As Kiso and the destroyers jumped into the water and deployed their rigging they started in shock at the vessel attacking them. “That's not an Abyssal! That's an American battleship!” Arashi shouted in fear.

    “Yes it is, but we will stop her,” Kiso calmly replied though she was quietly panicking, knowing they couldn't really do much unless they were able to hit her with the torpedos. Suddenly, the the ocean became quiet as the shells stopped coming. The American was still coming but something was starting to seem off, until as she got into clear view the kanmusu got a clear look at her and sighed in relief. The battleship had passed out for some unknown reason, and was apparently coasting, though when they approached her they realized she was still under fairy control to a degree. Kiso and the destroyers threw tow ropes around her and started to pull her towards shore; once on land, her rigging went away

    “SHE DID WHAT!? THAT'S WHERE SHE'S BEEN!? Thank you for letting us know.” Nimitz said before slamming down the phone. “Well, Sara, we found Arizona. Seems she apparently got the bright idea to liberate Wake herself and the Japanese have her captured currently. They're sending over a battleship of their own to watch over her since none of the forces they currently have can hold her. When we send one of our own to get her I’m making damn sure she doesn't sail on anything larger than a pond for the next few decades!”

    Sara sighed as Nimitz finished talking, she had been thinking over something and had decided to pitch her idea to Nimitz. “Sir, I'm thinking that we should let them keep her. Obviously just keeping her basically locked up isn't going to show her the Japanese aren't aiming to kill every American they can find and stop her revenge quest. But if we let them keep her and let them show her themselves that might be the trick to stopping her from slipping further into madness.”

    Nimitz stoop up and looked out the window behind his desk before turning around and speaking. “You know Sara, I think you're right about this. Let’s have her see for herself they aren't going to kill us.”

    Wake Island, February 1st, 1942

    Arizona's eyes fluttered open as the sun shone through the window. Smiling she turned over, she suddenly realized that sitting next to the bed she was in was a Japanese shipgirl, one she didn’t know but somehow knew was a capital ship. Instantly panicking she summoned her rigging and immediately crushed the bed and sunk into the ground a few feet. “Next time you summon your rigging I suggest you wait until you're on water.” the Japanese battleship said while laughing a bit. “So, you're the American that tried to take this base by herself, brave but foolish. My name is Kirishima and yours would be?”

    Arizona gave a glare that would've killed a normal person, “Arizona and I’ll fucking kill all of you for what you did to us at Pearl!”

    Kirishima hung her head in shame. “That was… a disgrace. To our crews, to Admiral Yamamoto, to our nation itself. When we learned that your base thought it was still peacetime…” She could not bring herself to continue. In her lap, her hands balled into fits.

    “Mebbe I oughta take it from heye?” saiid a new voice. What looked like a Japanese country bumpkin look down at Arizona. “Alrighty! Enough with the glaring aready! Youse look like a mess, so how about youse drop the additood. You deflee look hungry, so how about we get off the wooder, and I get you a nice sanwich or something, and we taawk about this. Okay?"

    Arizona just lay there looking utterly dumbfounded. "What the hell?”

    "Kongo's all like 'look at me, I was built in England' all the time, you know what? I was built in Joizie, but youse don't see me speaking random English when I'm tawking. Between you and me, she's just trying to look cool. Anyway, I’m Kamoi, oileh an’ seaplane tendah. So… you wanna stay six feet under? Or youse want a hand out o’ there?”

    Arizona really wanted to blast them both to pieces. But given her non-existent ability to target them without blowing herself to bits into the bargain, she pressed her lips together hard as her face tightened, and with immense reluctance, dismissed her rigging and accepted their help in climbing out of the hole she’d made for herself. “So what now?” she grumbled. “What do you nips do with POWs?”

    Both women tensed visibly at the slur. “The woid’s Japanese. Nihonjin in our language. Right now, our countries ain’t actually at war. But you’re trying way too hard to change that,” Kamoi said, her voice shifting to a near-hiss at that last. “Anyhow, you bein’ a battleship, I’m guessin’ you want to know the way ta the mess hall.” She smirked at Arizona’s stomach’s reply.

    Arizona was doing her best not to punch them both out, needing to remind herself that Kirishima was just as powerful as she was, and she’d be dogpiled if she tried anything without her rigging, and if she deployed, she’d be very literally digging her own grave. So she walked with the girls to the mess hall, watching the light cruiser and destroyers manhandling wall sections into place. This was no flimsy temporary construction, this base was meant to last. Of course, any base that could cope with shipgirls pretty had to be like that, didn’t it?

    The mess hall turned out to be not much more than a few tents and some picnic tables, and of course, lots and lots of people making lots and lots of food. She couldn’t help noticing how small the men on staff were compared to her, but she collected her quite large meal without even trying to talk to them. Mainly because she couldn’t understand a word anyone was saying.

    Kamoi pointed to the various dishes. “Gohan,” she said, and pointed to the rice. “Miso shiro,” indicating the soup. “Tsukemono,” the vegetables. “Hope ya like pickled stuff. There’s lots of pickled stuff in Japanese food. The grilled fish is maguro, tuna to you. An’ the noodles are udon. Lotsa noodles over here.”

    Arizona was more than a little bit in shock by this point. She didn’t know what she’d expected for treatment, but this wasn’t it. One guard worth talking about, and a friendly guide with a Jersey accent… This was just so weird. And she was sitting at a picnic table, learning the art of using chopsticks.
     
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  23. Whitewings

    Whitewings Making the rounds.

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    January 16, 1942

    On an islet off the Cote d’Azur, two women and three men sat on a flat plain of rock, looking at a map. “So,” said the taller woman. “We are agreed. The Ile de la Cité is our target. We raid the warehouses, and redistribute the food as far as we can, holding back only enough for ourselves, and if we see a good opportunity to disrupt German activities, we take it. No support, contact only via radio, one way only. You call us, we do not call you, not until we leave the city. Paris is built on solid rock, so we should be able to use our full power when we need it. We’ll need to go through Gibraltar, then around to the Seine, then it’s a straight run to Paris. We’ll depend on speed and stealth as much as possible, and once in the city, we’ll disguise ourselves as ordinary French women, and deploy our rigging only when we must.”

    “Oui,” said the smaller woman. “My aircraft will scout the city on the first night, but not attack. Then we can draw up more detailed plans. We’ll try to make contact with the Maquis, I’m sure they’ll be able to direct us to good targets, ones they could never attack but we can.”

    The taller women favoured the men with a crooked grin. “And we can stop eating your out of house and home.”

    The men’s laughter was not entirely mirthful, for keeping the two supplied had been extremely difficult, even with their willingness to eat almost anything even marginally edible. Still, if there was a better application for the transmigrated Richelieu and Commandant Teste, they couldn’t see it. So the discussion shifted to more detailed planning before, as sunset approached, the two women returned the sea, deployed their rigging, and returned the three men to the mainland prior to their own departure for northern France.

    January 18, 1942

    After twenty six hours on the sea, the two shipgirls were starvingly hungry, and their fairies were complaining quite loudly. But there was hope in sight at last: no more empty fields, no more frozen orchards. They dismissed their rigging, and proceeded toward a warehouse nears the docks, ordinary French woman, though very beautiful, and in Richelieu’s case unusually tall, and very strangely dressed. The warehouse guards were young, cold, and bored out of their skulls. So perhaps they could be forgiven for accepting an offer of horizontal collaboration, especially when the collaborators didn’t even want them to go further than inside the warehouse, where it was warm. Once inside, the two women stood at a discreet distance while one soldier relocked the door, then they smiled to the young men, beckoning them further into the warehouse. Embraces quickly turned terminal as the transmigrated warships snapped their necks with strength beyond human. The cooling bodies, the women quickly relieved of money and armaments, and of course, keys. Then, time for a filling meal. Granted, it was only German military rations, but they were designed to be at least marginally edible when cold, and there were plenty of them, enough that their stomachs and fairies were satisfied with the amount. Teste deployed her rigging, launched a single plane by crane, and then after they left, had that plane drop the keys inside by way of a small window, unreachable from the outside. Let the Gestapo crack their skulls over that one! A few moments later, she again appeared a normal girl.

    Through the streets, they saw few people, German or French, the curfew and weather keeping folk indoors. But they knew where to go: Notre Dame. The Germans would dare to violate the sanctuary, if they claimed it, but would be reluctant to do so. So Richelieu knocked at the door before letting herself and her battle-sister into the nave, quickly shutting the door behind them.

    In his quarters, the bishop woke with a feeling of a profound presence. Not the Holy Spirit, he was sure of that, but something significant, and after dressing, hurried downstairs. The two women were not what he expected, with their dress more suited to a prostitute, or at best to a model for a men’s magazine, but they were clearly the source of the immense spiritual presence he had felt. “Good evening, daughters,” he said to them. “How may I help you?”

    They both curtseyed to him. “Our apologies if we disturbed you, your Eminence,” the smaller one said, the one with the strangely coloured hair.

    “Well… yes, somewhat. Who and what are you?” And they told him. “I cannot approve your mission entirely,” he said. “But I will not turn you away, and I do know some people you might wish to speak with. I will see if they will agree to a meeting.”

    They both smiled. “Thank you, your Eminence. If you wish, we can help return much German plunder to French people – less our own requirements, of course.”

    “Of course. Bind not the mouth of the ox who treads out the corn. For now… I doubt it will trouble such as you to rest in the crypt.”

    They considered, then shook their heads. “Many of our sisters have been dead before, upon the floor of Mother Ocean. A night in a crypt is nothing to that.”

    During Mass the next day, the two shipgirls basked in the gentle spiritual presence that filled the cathedral during the service, as clear and real to them as sunlight to a regular person, partaking quietly despite the disapproving looks of many of the female parishioners, then went out with a man the bishop said could help. He led them through the city’s minor ways to his apartment, and to his wife.

    “Claude!” she yelled the moment the two walked in the door. “Wy are you bringing prostitutes here? Have you no discretion at all, no manners?”

    He smiled gently, and raised his hands. “I needed to bring them here, Amélie. And they’re not prostitutes. They are here to help us, and the bishop commended them to us.”

    Her expression grew less hard, though she still eyed them with suspicion. “Then why bring them here? Why not somewhere more secure?”

    “Because they need help now. Perhaps introductions would be a good place to start. Ladies?”

    They nodded. “Madame, I am Richelieu, and my companion is Commandant Teste, battleship and seaplane tender of the Forces Navales Françaises Libres.”

    Skeptical didn’t begin to describe the woman’s expression. “You two are Free French warships. I have seen warships, and they look nothing like you.”

    Commandant Teste smiled. “We can prove it, if you insist. Not here, we’d need solid rock. Until then, try to hit me.” Amélie accepted the offer, and her eyes grew wide when Teste blocked the attempted slap faster than she could follow.

    “Well, you’re something unusual at least,” she conceded. “But you’ll need more respectable clothes. Especially you,” she said to the towering Amazon who was Richelieu. “You don’t want to be taken for horizontal collaborators.” The two nodded to that.

    “What can you offer the Resistance beyond strength and speed,” Claude asked. “Not that they aren’t appreciated.”

    Richelieu took the question. “When we deploy our rigging, which we can only really do on water or rock, we are strong as warships, and as tough, with all our firepower, and perhaps most importantly, we’re walking radio transceivers, with encryption and decryption capabilities. Though we do have one drawback,” she admitted.

    Teste sighed. “Our appetites are enormous. We need every day enough food to feed about sixteen or seventeen ordinary women. But we’re not picky eaters; yesterday, we filled up on German military rations.” Amélie grimaced at that thought.

    “We’ll need to talk to those above us,” Claude said. “In the meantime, stay here. Don’t answer the door, don’t go to the windows.” They nodded their understanding, and the couple departed. The two passed their time in reading, including the propaganda leaflets the Germans distributed so freely. You couldn’t counter propaganda without knowing what was in it, after all. Laughably crude, holding only crude threats or attempts to appeal to sentiments that just didn’t apply to Gallic culture, it was no surprise to the women that the Germans were gaining nothing by their efforts.

    In due course, the couple returned, with long coats for their guests. “Our superior has agreed to meet with you in what used to be, according to legend, the Court of Miracles. You know it?”

    “Where the lame walk and the blind see,” Richelieu answered.

    “Every day a new wonder,” added Teste. “The Courts were done away with centuries ago, weren’t they?”

    Claude nodded. “But there are places in the Catacombs that still bear the name.” He led them to an entrance to the catacombs, and in the faint light, tapped a large stone. “This slab, according to the historical records, took a team of fifty men with levers to raise into place, step by step. To remove it would take the strength of a thousand men. Deploy this ‘rigging’ and move the block, and we will at least grant that you are what you claim.” The women shed their coats, and deployed their rigging. After scrabbling at the edges for a grip, the two pulled it out of its niche, and carefully moved it aside, setting it upright against the wall. Then they dismissed their rigging and re-donned the borrowed coats. Claude simply gaped at the sight. A subtle miracle, such as transubstantiation, was one thing. But this… “Angels…”

    Commandant Teste shook her her head. “No angels we. Spirits made flesh, yes, the Lord’s messengers, no.”

    “For reasons of His own, He has seen fit to grant us flesh and blood in place of steel and oil, and to me the knowledge of how to transmigrate other warships to serve His will,” Richelieu said, voice soft and reverent. “Now, shall we meet your superior?”

    That worthy was nearly a caricature of the elegant French aristocrat; the nobility was long gone, but the image endured and he embodied it. Introductions and explanations done, Commandant Teste deployed one of her planes. Being a tender rather than a carrier, that involved dropping the running plane and letting the pilot pull out, but the little lady was quite up to the task. Claude’s superior raised a brow at the sight, and after the little pilot landed her little plane, which Teste retrieved, immediately began asking extremely relevant questions. “To begin, I think the best use for your little ladies will be to scout from relatively high altitude. We can learn quickly where the Germans are concentrating; we have a good idea, of course, but with your scouting planes we can know exactly where, and with that, and with your ladies’ bombs, perhaps blow a few of them to bits.”

    Teste smiled at that. “I have a better idea. My ladies don’t pilot pure bombers; they pilot fighter-bombers. Ten skilled fighter pilots who can fly through the streets of Paris and quite literally shoot the umbrella from a man’s hand. Tell me, what would happen if we were to kill every emplaced gunner in the city, and you were to man those emplacements with men from the Forces Françaises Libres?”
     
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  24. Psyckosama

    Psyckosama Well worn.

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    Feel free to use the Louie stuff when it comes up
     
  25. Major Major

    Major Major Getting out there.

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    Actually, that reminds me; has the USS Stewart shown up yet? And is she as bonkers as some versions of her that I've seen?
     
  26. Whitewings

    Whitewings Making the rounds.

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    I'll be getting there in due course.
     
  27. Whitewings

    Whitewings Making the rounds.

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    January 19 - February 12, 1942

    In Fontainbleu Forest, some hundred kilometres upriver of Paris, Richelieu switched on her transmitter and tuned to one of the secure frequencies of the Forces Françaises Libre. She identified herself, and was put into touch with a high ranking officer. Outlining the situation and their plan, she and he entered into a lengthy discussion of the details of the plan, eventually agreeing upon as much as they could. Then Richelieu cut the transmission and sailed quickly down the Seine, back to the Île de la Cité, and their Resistance contact.

    For the next several weeks, the two filles-navale kept a low profile, seeming to be just ordinary Parisian women. Then one night, Claude came to Richelieu, nearly in tears. “What’s wrong?” she asked, and he looked around, clearly not wanting to say. Still, he knew he had no choice.

    “It’s… your companion. The Wehrmacht captured her, they claim she tried to kill a soldier. They’ve scheduled her for execution tomorrow,” and he broke down sobbing, only to look up a moment later when Richelieu laughed heartily. “What’s so funny? Your friends dies tomorrow, and our hope with her!”

    Barely suppressing her laughter enough to be understood, Richelieu managed to choke out an explanation, and by the end, Claude was chuckling too.

    Before the Palais de Justice the next day, a large crowd had been forcibly assembled to watch the execution, Claude and Richelieu among them. They watched the lovely young woman being forced up the stairs against her best efforts, Richelieu admiring the tender’s acting ability. The soldiers strapped the “convicted traitor” to the guillotine’s bed, and on the instant a terrible crash shattered the guillotine and the platform upon which it rested. Throughout the city, sudden bursts of gunfire raked emplaced German positions, coming from planes of impossible size and with impossible power, planes moving so fast that most could barely track their flight, Teste’s “ladies,” deployed and positioned before she had intervened in the carefully pre-planned “assault” upon a prostitute hired for just that purpose.

    The tender was moderately powerful as shipgirls went, which made her more than a match for the forces arrayed against her. A few shots from her lightest guns were enough to deal with the Wehrmacht soldiers, and her armour was more than sufficient to stop their guns, and the plaza was drenched in blood, none of it hers. In less than an hour, thanks to Teste and her ladies, and to Richelieu and her combat coordination abilities, and most of all the men of the Forces Françaises Libres, the city was back in French hands, and with surprisingly few French deaths. Nazi High Command would soon hate the very word “shipgirl,” regardless of the language in which it was spoken.