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艦これ: 陽炎、抜錨します！ (KanColle: Kagerou, Batsubyou Shi Masu!)
- Author: Tsukiji Toshihiko
- Illustrations: NOCO ( Tumblr / Twitter )
- on Famitsu Bunko
- A story about Destroyer Division 14 : Kagerou, Ushio, Akebono, Arare, Nagatsuki, & Satsuki.
- Deliciously grimdark but with a sort of optimism found in the early 80s shonen works, the LN series is about a ragtag bunch of misfits that you'd never thought you would actually care about. The girls themselves are aware (in-universe) that they serve as little more than cannon fodder, but watching DesDiv14 solve things with little more than a hilariously large amount of hotbloodedness and the power of love and friendship is very, very rewarding.
It‘s unfortunate that humanity is no longer master of the oceans.
In a time long past, mankind freely sailed the seven seas. Ships carried people and produce, linking land to land, continent to continent. The waters freely shouldered the responsibility of creating a better life for everyone.
But this idyllic time is no more. Now, the oceans have a new master. From the depths, this new master begun a ceaseless campaign of death and destruction. The seas became the birthplace and homeland of nightmares.
The name of this new master?
The abyssal fleet.
Nobody knows where the abyssals came from. What they did know was that it was an enemy of humanity. Some think they are machine, others think they are organic. Still others believe that they are from somewhere in the universe. These matters scholars debate endlessly.
Whatever their origins may be, there is one way to fight them. A small group of specialized human beings, carrying miniaturaized weapons, are able to bring the fight to the abyssal fleet. These, are the guardians of humanity - ship girls. Young women equipped with weapons found on warships.
Sortiing out from the naval bases, the ship girls are locked in a relentless struggle against the abyssal fleet. Wherever the abyssals invade, the ship girls will fight back to retake the oceans for humanity. Sometimes they are victorious, othertimes, they are not.
All for the sake of peace. For the sake of restoring the oceans to what it once was.
And now, a ship girl belonging to Yokosuke naval base, is rapidly moving within a certain northern sector, somewhere in the oceans.
(Context: Kagero is taking over and helping the admiral plan the counterattack)
"Hey, it's not easy being an admiral. Ultimately, we're responsible for everyone's well-being."
The old man stared at the map. On it was marked the various locations, including Linga base, the abyssal strike force, and of course, other naval bases.
"...You can't do this job if you're thinking like a sane or normal or healthy person. I bet the young'uns on the mainland feel the same way."
His face, full of wrinkles, all of a sudden looked very pained and complicated.
"Forcing young women much younger than us to take up weapons and send them off to sea... Waiting anxiously for news of the fleet... Imagine how we feel now, and you understand. We feel like this all the time."
"You want to see the fleet come home safe, right?"
"Yes. I want everyone to come home safe. That's all I want. I don't care if we win, or how many abyssals we sink. All I want (lit. the only desire of my heart) is to make sure you girls come back alive. So that's why some of us will order retreats at the slightest hint of injuries."
"But we can't win against the abyssals that way."
Nagatsuki said quietly. She's been listening to the conversation this whole time.
"Yeah, isn't that a paradox...Our future rests in our battles against the abyssal fleet, that's really something, huh? So when we know we have to fight on and continue to sortie, all admirals will feel something. We'll be upset, or irritated, or bothered, or any number of negative emotions. We have to put the life of the ship girl and the success of the mission to random fate, and no amount of damage control can take away that. The only thing we can do once you guys leave base is pray."
The admiral's eyes looked like they were focused on something far, far away.
Kagero and Nagatsuki waited silently.
"...That's why so many of us admirals turn to alcoholism. We lose to our own stresses. Or others (almost) develop substance dependence, like that guy from Kure. That boy from Yokosaka's even worse. You know he "touches" the bodies of the ship girls, right? It's the only way he can calm himself down..."
The admiral continued.
"You know why he does it? He does it so that he knows the ship girls are still alive. When he "touch" her, and the ship girl screams or moans, at least he knows she's still alive. Now, I think that's really stupid, but hopefully he's an example to illustrate why I say no good or sane or healthy person can do this job for long."
He gave a dry chuckle.
"But we're still admirals. At the end of the day, we, too, fight against our own vices. We need to maintain our own sanity. If we actually go crazy like that kid up there, then we're just useless pieces of trash. When we have finally learned to kill our own emotions and gained the capacity of becoming cold and ruthless, if by then we can still maintain our own humanity, then I'd say, that's what makes great admirals truly great. That, is who will save us all from the abyssal fleet. That is who will become a legend in history."
The old admiral gently poured himself a cup of tea.
"....Commander, you don't want to become this legend?"
Kagero asked quietly after a long time of silence.
"... That'd be impossible. I come here, to backwater Linga, because I couldn't fight against the abyssals anymore. The faces of so many ship girls who were sortied out in compete desperation, the looks of despair they had knowing it's a one way journey... I didn't want to see it again. So when they said Linga had an opening, I volunteered to come here. Yet how could I have known that I'd be sending you girls off to the same fates here...?"
Suddenly, the admiral's quiet voice was interrupted by Murakumo. Even though she was heavily injured, there were no repair docks for her, as such, she simply rested on the second floor's bedroom instead.
"Kagero, emergency high-speed encrypted broadcast from the sortied fleet."
At a run, Kagero and Nagatsuki rushed up the stairs. The old admiral hobbled up slowly a minute later.
( Context. Murakumo is a rare, rare survivor of a DD girl. Remember how I mentioned in this setting the DD girls are functionally cannon fodder? Well, she's been with this old admiral throughout his entire career. Been his secretary the whole time.
The old admiral picked Murakumo as his starter, but as I have written previously, he was ... driven to more or less retirement because he can no longer bear sending ship girls to their deaths aimlessly.
So, after hearing that, the destroyers prepare to sortie out regardless... Because there is no one else. Remember this story's naval base (Linga) has only Murakumo and Akitsumaru before the Kagero protags showed up.)
"...Are you going to go?"
"I'll be honest. I don't want to risk you - as damaged as you are already. But we can't jeopardize the entire fleet operation. And I can't let that Yokosuka boy's (note: unclear if this refers to Kagero's original admiral or another one of the Yokosuka admirals) precious ship girls die on my watch."
The old man nodded lightly as he eyed the radio next to the wall.
"I've been troublesome. You've experienced many hardships being with me all these years."
"Hah, that's nothing."
Murakumo smiled lightly.
"It's not like I've had a poor life. No, I should say, I've had a good life. Even though yeah, you're right. I kept on thinking how stupid it was for me to have followed you along."
"I did say you didn't have to come with me..."
(Context: remember this admiral was "retired?")
"Whatever, gramps, I can't fight fate." (TN: lit. "I can't cut destiny, Japanese expression.")
The old admiral shrugged, as if expressing helplessness.
"I knew I shouldn't have picked such a stubborn ship girl as my starter ship."
Murakumo ignored the admiral and turned to face Akitsumaru.
"Whatever happens, it's now up to you."
"Here, take this."
Murakumo handed the landing ship girl her "mast" - a thing that she had never been without ever since the day she became a ship girl. Akitsumaru's face paled. She realized now, for the first time, what Murakumo was planning.
"....I can't take this. This is Murakumo (note that Akitsumaru is unfalteringly polite, and uses honorifics to a T)'s precious....!"
"No duh. I'm giving it to you because it's precious to me. I don't want to lose this out there. And maybe, hey, you can use this thing better than me."
Half-jokingly, half-forcefully, Murakumo shoved the object towards Akitsumaru. Confused tears appeared in the ship girl's eyes as she looked confusingly at Murakumo.
"Hey, you know, I really wished I could have taken you to see the mainland, but it's not like ... you wanted to leave here either, mhm?"
(Context: Akitsumaru has never seen life outside of a military installation - in fact, she was never let out at all. She has no memories at all of her past as a human girl. Strongly implied that the IJA has an even worse conscription program than the IJN.)
Akitsumaru lowered her head as tears fell freely.
"I...I am indignant! I am a ship girl too, but ever since I arrived at Linga, I've never seen battle. Never had the opportunity to carry out my duty. Such shame...! P-Please, if this is a journey, let Akitsumaru go with you!"
Murakumo slowly shook her head.
"I'm not interested in taking a girl who hasn't even been remodeled."
"But, you are a formal member of the Linga fleet. You're a comrade in arms. So that's why I gave you that. Besides, I've got another job for you."
Murakumo's voice raised an octive.
"Take care of admiral."
Akitsumaru raised her eye.
"Once I go, only you will be left with the admiral. You need to wager all the pride a ship girl can muster, and what spirit remains in Linga base. You must protect the admiral."
"...You want Akitsumaru to protect the commander.."
"Yes. That is correct. This is the most important mission right now. Promise me, because failure will not be tolerated."
As if emphasizing her point, Murakumo grasped the other ship girl's shoulders and told her slowly, word by word. Tears disappeared from Akitsumaru's eyes. Now, they are replaced with a stern and determined light.
Murakumo rearranged the shattered uniform that was damaged in the previous conflicts. As best she could, she tried to not draw attention to the scarred and charred areas. Pulling on her tie, she turned around.
Even though she heard Akitsumaru call her name loudly, Murakumo did not once turn her head to look back.
- Morgane of the Mists