A few months has passed since the Pocky War happened, and it seems I spent the entire time that passed since then in and out of the base without having much time to dedicate towards documenting my activities during the last Fall and Winter operations. Not to mention I have missed out on several key events including Christmas, the New Year, Setsubun and as soon as I returned to office to prepare for this year's Winter operations I was greeted with a table full of chocolates. Haruna was not exactly happy I was out for so long and only appeared on random intervals just to check on missions and expeditions, Ooyodo and Kashima had their hands full in fleet management without me around I had to ask Graf to help them out, which she happily obliged. I am glad to know she's rather competent with the tasks. ... That one incident aside.
Thankfully at around that time I was almost finished with some assignments outside the base that I had to be burdened with, so I suppose getting back into office after so long is kind of a vocation by itself for me.
The giant house of the Nineties are growing ever so larger than before. They are now forming about over fifty per cent of this naval base's populace. But as their training levels increase, however... what did not increase was the amount of space I can afford for new intakes. I did get some new rooms built but as new intakes keep rolling in every season that amount of space is diminishing fast and I am currently pretty broke to beg the headquarters for more rooms.
Speaking of the Nineties, it seems Graf and Choukai had joined the rest of the Ninety-Niners. ... If I have to be honest, that one incident with Graf did shake me a little bit... nevertheless. I cannot afford myself such distractions on an everyday basis. I am not here to gawk at those under my command... at least not all day long. Curiously enough the number one complaint I get from everyone in the base is that the opposite happens (read: I pay them no attention I and I get gawked at a lot). Remarks like "Are you gay?" is no longer an alien everyday saying now over here.
The New Intakes
During the last Fall and Winter I've had some more new intakes coming into office.
Yamakaze: Currently she is living with her sister Umikaze and the rest of the Shiratsuyu-class shipgirls currently not in service in the fleet. For a while she was assigned as an active shipgirl... on the expeditioners' fleets. But considering the sometimes gung-ho way I tend to go about my fleet business, it would be not really nice to have such a wallflower like her go through my more aggressive tactics in battle. Besides... I would rather not let someone like her have to know her Admiral moonlights with "shadow work" while off-duty. I did give her operation debut as part of the transport fleet during the last Winter operations, though.
Saratoga: The first aircraft carrier from the American side to arrive to this base. Along with Iowa we now have two Americans staying in the base. Unlike Iowa who's a little bit wild she's way much more graceful. I guess I better ask her to be part of my side if Akagi intends to exercise with her task force, with me and Graf taking on the helm of the opposing force...
I-13 (Hitomi) and I-14 (Iyo): I guess this is the second set of twins I get to know after Ikazuchi and Inazuma (both of which are now in the non-enlisted dormitories). They have the typical disposition I can predict from twins, too. Though what I didn't expect was Iyo's love of her liquor, making her part of the heavy drinkers in the base. They're now being inducted by Imuya as part of my "agents" composed of the submariners, now occupying the space left by Maruyu (who's now assigned for the submariners' paperworks).
Bismarck: "Admiral. May I have you for a moment?"
Admiral: "What is it, Bismarck? I have other errands to run for today so please, be brief."
Bismarck: "Stand here for a bit."
Swiftly, Bismarck kneels behind the Admiral and lands her hands... on his rear.
Admiral: "!?... Bismarck, what are you doing?"
Bismarck: "Body inspection."
Admiral: "What are you looking for...? You are not looking for my wallet, are you?"
Bismarck: "No. But you do have something I consider not fit to be on your person, Admiral..."
The Admiral feels a pair of hands squeezing his rear.
Bismarck: "... and that would be these."
Admiral: "Huh? Huh? What's wrong with... my... um, rear?"
Bismarck: "Admiral. You said you are a man, aren't you."
Admiral: "That I am?"
Bismarck: "Then what's with that child-like appearance."
Admiral: "My ID is telling the truth, though...?"
Bismarck: "Then what is that pattern of speech."
Admiral: "T-that is the way I usually am...?"
(Note: In my vision of a Japanese-speaking "Admiral Tadano Hitoshi", he always speak with something close to keigo (formal speech) even for casual interactions, addresses himself as "watashi(私)", addresses "you" as "anata(貴方)". At times he will sound like a girl with these. Here's an example of how he would say the previous line: そ、それはいつもの私ですが…? (so, sore wa itsumo no watashi desuga...?) )
Bismarck: "Then what is with these assets!!"
The pair of hands squeezing the Admiral's rear tightens its grip much, much harder.
Admiral: "O-ow!? W-why are you gripping on it so hard!?"
Bismarck: "Your figure is too young and too girly to be a man!! Your way of speaking too! I acknowledge you have the skill and aptitude but I just cannot accept those peculiarity of yours!!"
Admiral: "That's the part you're dissatisfied with!?"
Suddenly the door opens and two more figures comes in.
Zuikaku: "Admiral-san! Look at this! The 'Damaged' form of my 3D self! It might not be as big as Shoukaku-nee's, but even with this ought to shake you a bit! You wouldn't dare to ignore me now would you!"
Admiral: "WHY ON EARTH DO I NEED TO KNOW THAT!?"
Zuikaku: "Why, you ask!? It's because for whatever reason you always ignore me when it comes to carrier flagship selection!! It's always Shoukaku-nee for whatever reason when you need us! Then I realized your choice of shipgirl always have this one certain thing in common. (points to her chest) It's these, right!?"
Admiral: "Why would that have anything to do with why I picked them over you!?"
Zuikaku: "Shut up! Admiral-san, I know you're a healthy boy. It couldn't be helped that you would look at these things. The truth is that I am not losing to them in these aspects you like! I should've realized this sooner too!"
Admiral (sighing): "... This feels so wrong on so many levels I don't know where I should begin."
Maya: "Coming to think of it, he does seem to be looking at the more mature destroyers a lot more than he looks at the younger ones."
Admiral: "While they do indeed attract my intrigue, I would rather not dwell too much on it because I am here not to find someone to bed with."
Bismarck, Zuikaku, Maya (in unison): "That indeed is worrisome."
Admiral: "Why would you be disappointed with me not interested in you girls!?"
Bismarck, Zuikaku, Maya (in unison): "Because you swinging that way hurts our confidence?"
Admiral: "In what way!? Indeed that I do have a good friend outside the base and I tend to hang around with him a lot, but I do not swing that way. You are attractive ladies, I will give you that. Just... please, let me concentrate on my professional obligations."
Maya: "Bringing up the 'professionalism' card won't work for you all the time, though. In fact if I have to say one thing you should be 'professional' about, it's about letting me have some of that ass. We all have something we want from you, y'know."
Admiral: "Sometimes I wonder if being a stud is part of an Admiral's job description..."
Maya: "Some Admirals I've seen gleefully accept that, though, and they get some pretty happy girls on their side too. You too would like it if we're all happy to be under your command, right? So..."
Admiral: "But that's just..."
Bismarck: "If you're to prove you are a man, come at us now. Feel us, so that you can prove yourself."
Zuikaku: "That's right, Admiral-san. You can see for yourself how I am not losing to everyone else when it comes to this (points to her chest again)."
Admiral (turning away): "No thanks. I have some errands to run so ple--"
Bismarck lunges at the Admiral and tries to stop him in his tracks...
Bismarck: "You're not going anywhere!!"
Suddenly, an awkward silence. All four of them are frozen in their spots. All of the three shipgirls' eyes are now on the Admiral... who got his lower wear accidentally stripped away by Bismarck.
INTERMISSION: Cue an image of a peeled banana. The three shipgirls' breathing suddenly become much heavier.
Bismarck: "A-Admiral. It's dangerous to have a main cannon exposed like that without protection. W-we must do maintenance often."
Zuikaku: (Admiral-san's... thing...)
Maya: "Oooh! This is the first time I saw it like that! Totally different from the books!"
Admiral: (... At any rate it would be bad if I don't do anything about this situation. But what should I do...)
A moment later, somewhere else within the base, two certain shipgirls wearing armbands with the letters "MP" on them happens to be just walking down the hallway...
One day, in the Admiral's office. Two figures are staring down their paperworks, both wearing poker faces.
Admiral: "... Um."
Ooi: "What is it, Admiral."
Admiral: "How did you become assigned for today's secretarial tasks."
Admiral: "Surprising to know you'd go with it."
Ooi: "I too figure this would be a good time to say I'm sorry for that one time."
Admiral: "So, just a very personal question."
Ooi: "What is it."
Admiral: "Do you... um. Swing. That way."
Ooi: "I am not sure what you meant with that."
Admiral: "You. Kitakami. Private times. Between two girls."
Ooi: "Like I said, I don't know what you mean."
Ooi: "How about you then, Admiral. Do you swing that way."
Ooi: "Say, Admiral."
Admiral: "What is it."
Ooi: "Let's give it a try."
Admiral: "Give what."
Ooi: "Us. In private."
Admiral: "That would be problematic."
Admiral, Ooi (thinking): (This is getting nowhere.)
Ooi: (... Why did I even say that.)
Rather than tea, I'd love snacks while on a couch.
Iowa: "Maaannn, that made me tense up so bad, Admiral. I don't know how Sara managed to deal with all these... teatime table manners... thing."
Admiral: "The less said about it the better. I cannot really do it the British way. Getting surrounded by them kind of left me choking for another atmosphere."
Iowa: "Really, just lazing around on a couch with some chips and coke is really the way to go for an afternoon! I know I'm part of the round-table battleships, but... ugh."
Admiral: "Same here... I guess we're just not that used to that kind of formality."
Iowa: "So... ehem, Admiral. I guess... we could use some time for ourselves... in my room? I have a sofa there so..."
Admiral: "If you're asking for 'comfort times' I'll have to say no to that."
Iowa: "Tch, what a killjoy."
Admiral (gives Iowa a menacing stare): "Do I need to ask you again what got splashed onto my face when I found you in your bunk while looking for you...?"
Iowa: "T-that was an accident!! Also don't actually blurt it out here, you know Yamato doesn't like me because I suppose I hang around you way too often."
Admiral: "I just hope you won't be expecting me to actually help you finish."
Iowa (with a straight face): "I do."
Admiral: "... Sigh."
Iowa: "Hey, you still owe me a servicing from before you left the States y'know. Don't blue-bean me."
Admiral: "I never agreed to give you anything, though."
Admiral: "... Come on, let's just sit down. Let's first wash away that... perverted thoughts of yours."
Iowa: "Calling them 'perverted thoughts' is a bit pushing it, Admiral. Let's just say 'healthy fantasies'."
Admiral: "Nothing 'healthy' about it if it becomes your default content of thoughts, though."
Iowa: "... Fine, fine. Maybe I'm just exhausted from all these urges caused by the spirit I embody."
Admiral: "They must've been one rowdy bunch."
Suddenly the Admiral gestured a signal, and Iowa opened a private communications channel between the two of them.
Admiral: [ But I can't have you keep chasing me for it forever... fine. But if you break down the fence and take me, it's off. I'll make sure you get nothing but your own faithful Rosie Palms after that. ]
Iowa's somewhat sour face somehow lightened up after.
Iowa: [ R-Really? Thanks! Then I'll go back to my bunk. Come anytime~ ]
The Admiral never did.
The tiny tabby bares its claws (Side A)
One late morning at the naval base's gym.
A crowd forms a ring, in the center of the ring... Nagato and the Admiral stands inside it.
Admiral: "I just kind of casually asked for a spar, but this kind of crowd is making me regret it..."
Nagato: "Ah, I know that feeling. Still, now that we just basically went along with it anyway... you still want a round? Admiral."
Admiral: "I do need to stretch out a bit, I haven't had a good round in a while, and I cannot really bother that friend of mine now that he's currently offshore for an exercise."
Nagato: "Though this will be the first time you asked me out for this, I look forward to our spar."
Admiral: "Please do."
The two got into their stances...
Yuudachi: "Hm? What's up, Shigure? Like, you noticed something weird?"
Shigure: "Admiral's movements..."
Yuudachi: "Oh? ... That's, like, a bit strange, isn't it?"
Shigure: "Yeah... but. Those movements feel a bit odd, but it seems to be deliberate on his part."
Yuudachi: "Deliberate? Like, Admiral-san actually moves like that for a reason?"
Shigure: "Yeah, but... where have I seen that before..."
Nagato: (The way he moves is a bit odd. Is he using a certain martial art? Either way I don't think I am familiar with whatever he had in mind. Do I make my first move? Do I wait for him to initiate the first strike?)
Bismarck: (What is up with his movements. Just what kind of strange martial art does he know of? Is that deliberate? What kind of trick does he hide?)
Iowa: (Hmm... Haven't I seen those movements in one of the documentaries they air over there back while I was in the States? What was that called again...?)
Haruna: "For the Admiral to come down for a spar, moreover with Nagato-san of all people, is quite unexpected... And his movements, though a bit strange to understand, seems to have its own purpose in the footwork. Every movement he makes appear to be so intricate..."
Yamato: "I've only read about it, but it seems it's a kind of martial art from the Admiral's homeland."
Yamato: "Yes. Though I am not that well-versed with the movements the practitioners make..."
Nagato: (Either way, just stalling like this won't get us anywhere. He's clearly waiting for me to strike first. All right, I'll see what he can do with this...!)
Just as she lunges forward for the first strike, the tiny frame of the Admiral already moved forward to intercept.
Nagato: (See this, Admiral, how would you stop me in my tracks now! Even if you're skilled there's still the difference between a normal human and a shipgirl, especially one who is a battleship!)
One arm pulled to her back, the other trying to pull the Admiral's away from coiling around her neck. His legs hugging the lower part of her torso very tightly, and soon Nagato finds herself immobile.
Nagato: (I-I'm stuck!? I can't move!)
The struggle continues.
Bismarck: (Heh, what's wrong with Nagato? Don't tell me she cannot break free from such a tiny boy gripping her like that?)
Kirishima: "Hmm, as expected from the Commander. That grapple effectively prevented Nagato-san from moving, and from the looks of it, the top part of her body is about to give in to the Admiral's weight pulling it down. Surprising to know he can use his rather light body weight that way, though. It seems this technique of his is functioning like some sort of a lever that keeps her in place, as well as making her lose her balance. And it's also preventing Nagato-san from using her size and muscle mass advantage to counteract the effects of his technique."
Bismarck: (What!? But that's impossible! How could a normal human with such a small frame do that to a shipgirl!?)
Nagato: (I'm falling!!)
With a soft thud, she falls to the ground. The Admiral nimbly got out of the way before she hit the ground, however, and kneeled as he got up.
Shigure: "Those hand gestures... I cannot really tell what they mean. It's a mix of 'en garde' and 'come at me, I'm ready' with its flow of movements..."
Nagato (slowly getting back up): (Oof... that was really something. What was that? ... Hm?)
Bismarck: (What is he doing now? Why is he still kneeling? What are those hand gestures are supposed to convey?)
Nagato: (Admiral, you sly fox... You're trying to make me go first again? ... All right, this Nagato shall not deny you that!)
Lunging forward, Nagato jumps high and dives towards the Admiral in an attempt to pin him down... and does so.
Nagato: "Heh, that move earlier was interesting, to think you managed to bring me down like that. Now it's my turn. How will you get out of this grapple?"
Kirishima: "Finally Nagato-san is able to use her advantage against the Commander, but the Commander doesn't seem to be fazed at all... Does he have another trick up his sleeve?"
Bismarck: "What are you talking about? There's no way he'd..."
Just as Bismarck says that, suddenly the Admiral throws a kick to Nagato's head while in his position.
Nagato: (Ow! He's struggling. Even though he's small that kick is hitting my temple! ... Shit, I lost my grip on him!)
Bismarck: "He broke free!?"
Admiral: "Do we take a break, Nagato? We're still pretty early into our spar..."
Nagato: "Heh, no. That was great, Admiral. Let's keep going at it a bit more."
And the sparring continues.
A few moments after the sparring rounds...
Nagato: "Whew, I'm beat. That was a good one, Admiral, though... are you all right? You got off to a good start, but I guess even you are no match for the limits of the human body, huh."
Admiral (panting): "Huff... whew.... yes. No matter how much I try to hold you back my physical endurance is still no match compared to you. Still, getting to know I can keep up with you feels like enough achievement by itself."
Nagato: "That it is. It's still surprising, having to face such tenacity and skill from your tiny frame. Better rest up, Admiral. You probably won't want to wake up the next morning sore all over."
Admiral: "Will do... hmm?"
Yuudachi: "Admiral-san, Admiral-san! That match earlier was, like, amazing! How did you like, do all that? Yuudachi wants to, like, know how to do them too!"
Shimakaze: "Admiral~! That bout against Nagato-san was amazing, but I'd love to compete with you in speed!"
He then gets surrounded by a number of shipgirls both impressed and wanting to duel him.
Nagato: "Well... what do I say... don't overdo it, all right?"
Admiral: "Seriously, all I want to do now is take a break..."
The tiny tabby bares its fangs (Side B)
Time and location: Unknown
(Radio static with chatter)
"Hotel Zero, this is Seawolf lead speaking. We're RTB from recon, ETA 45 minutes from now. How are things on your end?"
"In the clear. Ready to move as soon as you guys report back in. How's yours?"
"All good, except for a little trouble behind us... we're taking some evasive measures. Their hounds are alert but haven't seen us yet so they're out sniffing, but I believe we'll reach you first at the exchange point. So, uh, can you shake them off after that?"
"What's the deal this time, sir?"
"Rogues. The place is more or less an abandoned wreck. Command post gone stupid, the girls became nothing more than used sleeves. The ones who didn't became collaborators, and now they're planning to cause chaos starting with the HQ. Our task is to knock some sense into the guy who runs the place."
"I don't feel we're going to be received warmly..."
"Obviously. Why would I dress up like this if I'm not out to pull the plugs out from someone's life supports?"
"Marked for death, huh..."
"If diplomacy can make the man repent it would've happened a while ago. Their last message to HQ clearly had them raring for it."
"While you say that, you feel like you're pretty raring to go yourself..."
"This is just who I am. It is something that must be done. That doesn't mean I cannot anticipate having to do this. After all, it is because what I am that I am very fond of the phrase 'finish them off'."
"A pretty bloodthirsty one yourself aren't you, sir?"
"Only because I know I am up against the most wretched and depraved of villains who would not listen to reason, only doing everything for their own twisted desires. I would not feel the same if the other side has reasons too heavy for me to even give pursuit."
"A sentiment that sounds noble, but it is not any better than one that is compared to a demon."
"The path to Hell is paved with good intentions, after all. But in my case, what do you make of a path carved by Death and his messengers?"
"I'm afraid it's out of my capacity for an answer, sir. Either way, I am not really against what we have to do, it was just my curiosity kicking in. In truth, I am also raring to go as well. This man has truly transformed into a monster incapable of reason and compassion, led by his avarice and lust, and inside his mortal shell dwells a corrupted soul twisted by the evils he had committed. How can I not want to strike down such monstrosity?"
"...Heh, likewise. ... Here they come. Let's go!"
And that night, the cold wind breezes past as the black clouds with the silhouette of the Reaper covers the land."
Lightning and thunder can be heard within the distance.
NEWS: [ A remote island base belonging to the Navy was destroyed in a fire last night. Investigators suspected it was a case of arson by an inside job, however the exact details on the culprit was unknown. The naval officers in charge of the area were also suspected to be killed by the fire, however as of current there were no traces of their bodies. The fire department also reported there were no survivors present, it was assumed that some somehow fled but currently there are no details available on their whereabouts. The military police is currently on a lookout for clues and evidence that might reveal more information regarding this incident. ]
Graf Zeppelin: "Waking up to such news... we are living in an era of insanity."
Haruna: "How grim... but, to be still sitting here with the Admiral, Haruna is more than happy enough."
Graf Zeppelin: "Hmpf... unsavory news aside, this early morning shower is indeed a good time to be enjoying coffee. Will you have a cup, too?"
Haruna: "Yes, gladly."
Graf Zeppelin: "... Did Admiral stay up again last night? It's still early on in the morning, but he's now back asleep, face on the table."
Haruna: "Yes... the Admiral has been running late-night expeditions with the submarines."
Graf Zeppelin: "I know he has been busy with matters outside the base, but he returns for a few days and does that in an attempt to make up for the time he was gone...? I hope he hasn't been exerting himself."
Haruna: "Yes, I'm worried too... but I have faith that he will be all right."
Graf Zeppelin: "Faith, huh... I wonder if it is alright to have such faith... but I do have faith in my coffee. I will make him a nice one when he wakes up."
Haruna (smiles): "Please do. I am sure he will be happy to drink it."
And the naval base wakes up to a slow-paced morning with a light shower.
[ Note: And yet another one done. ... I guess this part shouldn't be here and I kind of dragged it out too long, but eh. Time to close the book on this one... ]